Mage Character Creation

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 Anniversary Edition. 
    • 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.
  • Atmosphere
    • The World of Darkness is a gothic-punk setting. It is sometimes easy to forget this when playing Mage, but although Mage draws elements and tropes from other settings (everything from Wuxia to Utopian/Dystopian Sci-Fi), it still inhabits the same World of Darkness that everyone else does.
      • 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. 
      • A gothic-punk character exists somewhere between those two extremes: Karen From Finance has secrets that could bring down the company if they get out, a pistol in her purse that she’s learning to use while looking over her shoulder and just might wear a leather jacket after work.
  • Magi of Los Angeles
    • The L.A. of the World of Darkness isn’t the sanitized and gentrified version of  today. Look back to early 2000s (or even the 1990s in some locations) where we see a much grittier Los Angeles.
    • There are a few locations that have kept up with RL prosperity, such as Hollywood-Highland, much of Downtown LA or Silicon Beach, yet much of Hollywood, Central and South LA remains comparatively dangerous.
    • And yet, it also remains a city of celebrity excess, Westside yoga instructors and millionaire social media influencers. The contrasts are starker and the social tensions more pronounced, though.
    • 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. Almost half of Angelenos are Latino or Hispanic, and nearly a quarter are Asian or black. You’re encouraged to research the many ethnicities and nationalities that have contributed to Los Angeles (African-American, Mexican-American ‘Chicano’, Salvadorans and many other Central Americans, Armenians, Persians, Koreans, Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos, Thai and more) and portray a character from one of those very interesting backgrounds.

      LA has many immigrants, both from other countries and from internal US migration. There is a wealth of information out there on the internet.  Here’s a few quick examples:

    • Concepts to Avoid
      • 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.
      • Unaffiliated/Loner concepts are discouraged for a variety of reasons (almost all of them for your benefit). If you think you’re the exception, feel free to pitch it. 

To make things easier with character creation, we have added a step-process to guide you through it. Please feel free to ask for help if you need it! Also, we assume that you have a copy of Mage: the Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition. If you do not, please let us know and we can direct you to where you can find one.

See also the Mage Mortal, Sorcerer, and Companion Creation Guide.

Need Help?

If you go into the Character Generation room and follow the instructions to “selfsplat” yourself Mage, you will have access to the Mage channel to ask questions.

Additionally, see the +st list for the Mage Director, and the Meet the Producers Bulletin Board post on Board 26 will show you which Producers can help you with fitting into your preferred faction.

Awakened

Pre-Gen

  • Be prepared for the Mage Director to ask clarifying questions, make suggestions, note concerns, or even request changes. This is done to ensure PCs are a good fit in the game. Please approach these as part of the creative process, and be open to opportunities to deepen your character.
  • Awakened mages must be human. We aren’t allowing Awakened Constructs at this time.
  • Age and Experience
    • Older characters will often receive more Tier XP than younger ones due to life experience. 
    • Older characters are more likely to have various Abilities approved at higher levels over younger characters.
    • The longer you are Awakened the more training you are likely to have in magick.
    • Keep in mind these are guidelines, and circumstances like backstories, professional training, Backgrounds, Merits, Tradition, Convention or Craft, and other characteristics may factor into stat ratings or approvals.

General

  • +setsplat Mage
  • Choose concept – A word or two that sums up your character idea (e.g. Angel Technician, Canny Fixer, Mob Wizard).
    • +selfstat Concept=<concept>
  • Affiliation – Traditions, Technocracy
    •  +selfstat/faction 1=<your faction>
    • +selfstat/faction 2=<your Tradition, Craft, Convention>
    • +selfstat/faction 3=<your sub-faction>
  • Essence – Dynamic, Static, Questing, Primordial
    • +selfstat Essence=<Essence>
  • Archetype: Nature, and Demeanor
    • +selfstat Nature=<Archetype>
    • +selfstat Demeanor=<Archetype>
    • Notes: You aren’t limited to the Archetypes in M20 or Book of Secrets. Feel free to draw on the other game lines or previous editions, but final decision is still up to staff discretion.

Select Attributes

  • Prioritize the three categories: Physical, Social, Mental (7/5/3).
    • Your character automatically has one dot in each Attribute.
  • Rate Physical Traits: Strength, Dexterity, Stamina.
  • Rate Social Traits: Charisma, Manipulation, Appearance.
  • Rate Mental Traits: Perception, Intelligence, Wits.
    • +selfstat <Attribute>=<#>
  • Note – Attributes starting at 1 cannot be raised with Tier XP and cost 12 XP to raise to 2 once in play. Please keep that in mind if you choose to take an Attribute at 1.

Select Abilities

  • Prioritize the three categories: Talents, Skills, Knowledges (13/9/5).
  • Choose Talents, Skills, Knowledges.
  • No Ability higher than 3 at this stage.
    • +selfstat <Ability>=<#>

Select Advantages

Spheres

  • Traditions, Technocracy, and Crafts choose one of the Affinity Spheres for their group. Some groups have more than one Sphere listed, while others do not.
  • Orphans may choose any single sphere as their Affinity Sphere.
  • Assign one dot to this sphere.
  • You have five other dots you may assign in Spheres.
    • No Sphere can be higher than your Arete, you may wish to wait to assign the rest until you’ve decided whether or not to raise your starting Arete using freebie points.
    • Arete is capped at 3
    • +selfstat <Sphere>=<#>

Backgrounds

  • Choose Backgrounds (7)
  • Members of the Technocracy & Backgrounds
    • One of the benefits of being a member of the Union is that you may receive a salary and living quarters from whatever Technocratic front you work for. This is, of course, in exchange for slavish devotion to the Technocratic cause, but that’s what you signed up for, right? Technocrats may forgo Backgrounds such as Resources, and in doing so, are assumed to have a standard of living roughly equal to their Status trait. The upside is that you don’t have to worry about finding housing or how you’ll put food on the table, but the downside is that the Technocracy owns it all – from the dishes you eat off, the couch you relax on, the toilet where you do your business, the car you drive, and even the clothes you wear. None of this is flashy, and could be described as adequate. The work itself is its own reward.
      • +selfstat <Background>=<#>

Finishing Touches

  • Record beginning Arete (1)
  • Willpower (5)
    • Max of 8 even with Freebies or Tier XP
  • Paradox (0)
  • Rotes (You may start with one per level of Arete)
  • Resonance
    • Resonance in M20 is a little different than in previous editions. These are divided into Resonance and Synergy, but collectively they are also called Resonance. Confused yet? Don’t sweat it. We are using a simplified, narrative based Resonance rules. See the Mage House Rules for details.

Freebie Points

  • Spend freebie points (15).
  • Willpower costs 2 per dot (House Rule)
  • Abilities (HR)
    • Abilities and Secondary Abilities both cost the same amount of points to raise, whether freebie points, or regular allocation points.
    • Abilities and Secondary Abilities both cost 1 freebie point per dot to increase, up to a rating of 3.
    • Raising an Ability or Secondary Ability to 4 or 5, can only be done with freebie points, and costs 2 freebie points per dot as normal.
  • You can now use your freebies to raise your Abilities above 3.
  • Arete is capped at 3.
  • Optional: Choose Merits (max. 10 points) and Flaws (max. 7 points).

Notes

Please set the following notes:

  • Backstory: Backstories need not be more than one or three concise, out-world paragraphs. Backstories are instruments for us to get a sense of your character. Here are some potential topics to help get you started in thinking about your character’s past:
    1. Sleeper life
    2. Awakening
    3. Your recruitment or initiation into your faction and sub-faction – how you came to join the groups you joined.
    4. Magical training (or lack thereof) – who trained you, what was that training like, and where are they now?
    5. The different factions and sub-factions have values, goals, and standards. Its assumed that you share some of them or at least see some value in gathering in a group.
      1. Your current role in your faction and/or sub-faction, or why you are involved in your given faction.
      2. Your current role in your Tradition/Convention/Craft.
      3. Your views on the Ascension War
        1. You don’t have to have a comprehensive strategy, but you should cover how the war shapes your world view, and your approach to it.
        2. How do you think your faction should be addressing their enemies?
        3. Are you a dedicated soldier? A begrudging victim? An opportunistic spy?
        4. Do you prefer to hit your enemies where it hurts with swords and bolts of energy, or are you engaging in the war from the realm of ideas and beliefs?
      4. Your views on Ascension
        1. Again, you don’t have to have a comprehensive plan for Ascension, but all mages are visionaries. You should have some notion of how you’d like to make the world a better place.
          1. What does your faction and sub-faction believe about Ascension? Reality 2.0? The City of Pymander? A Techno-Utopia? A return to a previous age?
      5. Your views on the Sphinx
        1. This is particularly important for Tradition mages, but very few Awakened have not been subject to their provocations.
          1. Are you a Guardian? A Fencer? An Emissary?
      6. Views on the Technocratic Pogroms and their so-called victory
        1. Did you suffer during the Pogroms, or were you able to escape? Did you lose loved ones?
        2. If you were on the Technocratic side, were you a willing participant or did you go along knowing it was a mistake? How do you feel about it being discontinued?
      7. Views on the Storm
        1. We don’t use the Avatar Storm per se, but there was a huge cosmological event that really shook things up. What was it? How did you survive it? How did it shape you?
    6. Any goals, ambitions, dreams, or anything else you think might be important
    7. How do you see your character growing as the chronicle goes on?
  •  Backgrounds: Some backgrounds, for example, Arcane, Destiny and Dream,  do not require explanations. They just are. Others like Allies, Patron, or Mentor require a write-up. Please explain who they are and/or what role they play in your character’s life. See Mage House Rules for clarification.
    • Please connect with the Mage director concerning Wonders.
    • Status will be assigned based on your faction so don’t bother taking it in chargen.
  • Merits & Flaws – Like backgrounds, some don’t require an explanation (Acute Sense), but others do.  Please create write-ups for any Merits & Flaws that aren’t self-explained. See the Mage House Rules as there are a few changes.
  • Equipment – Any special equipment like weapons, armor, or other unusual items that might need approval
  • Avatar or Genius (Awakened only): A description of your Avatar (called Genius by members of the Technocracy). Please include the following in your note:
    • Archetype: Avatars don’t have names like Susan or Bob, but the mage generally has some title or phrase they use to describe their Avatar. Think of it as a combination of Nature, Demeanor, and Concept. This sums up the purpose, flavor, or short description. For example, Daughter of the Mighty Ones, Ghost Owl, She Who Measures, The Phantom Messenger, The Great Teacher, The Uncanny Double, or the Handsome Stranger.
    • Form: What form does your Avatar take? What does it look like/ Does it take the form of a strange spirit or does it come in the form of Albert Einstein?
    • Manifestation: How does your Avatar appear and communicate with to you? In dreams? Through a ritual? When your are lost in thought? Via late night telephone calls?
    • Motivation: What are your Avatar’s goals and motivations? What does it want to see in the world? How does it want you to use your power?

How Focus Works