Mage House Rules

Not every house rule is on this page. But here is a collection of subjects that didn’t fit anywhere else. You should +bbread 26 in game as well.

Miscellaneous

  1. M20 is the rules system we use. M20’s rules supersede all other editions unless otherwise noted.
  2. Mages can do a lot of stuff. That is great. We encourage mage players to be creative. That said, when approving rotes, Wonders, or the other bananas stuff Mage sometimes throws at us, a Director here will ask themselves the follow questions:
    1. Will this be disruptive to the game’s intended themes and setting? If your Director is telling a story in Los Angeles, they might not be receptive to something that seems aimed at sucking an excessive amount of ST attention towards tertiary/peripheral locations. You might be gently advised to re-conceptualize certain desires to make them more relevant to the game and the other players.
    2. Has this been created without a plausible IC narrative, OOC sportsmanship and game balance in mind? Most of the time when this happens, it is owing to an incomplete understanding of the rules. Sometimes however, it comes down to different interpretations. A big part of how a Director might resolve those difference of opinions, is how sincere and fully realized an effort feels.
  3. Remember to talk to your Director and be open to discussion and revision!

Time scale and actions

At this game we are combining the concept of a ‘week’ with the concept of a ‘chapter.’  Game-mechanical weeks and chapters will be treated as the same thing, and will start on the 5th, 15th, and 25th of every month. Where explicitly necessary, certain mechanics are given a 1.5 modifier to ensure no one is screwed over it.

Technology Clarifications

  • Tech Stuff Clarification

    • Hypertech is distinguished from technology in that it refers to Magickal technology. If Arete is involved, Hypertech is involved.
    • But Hypertech builds on underlying technology. Therefore, Hypertech rating  must be less than or equal to the character’s Technology rating (M20 pg. 296). We learn to walk before we run, and before we can hypertech we must first Sleeper tech. The two are related in so far as Technology deals with understanding the principals behind Sleeper technology. Hypertech is the expression of magickal arts through technology pushing it to the point of being indistinguishable from magic. In short, this is your go to Ability for technomagick. See below for clarification.
    • Biotech is a Hypertech specialty. See below.
      • Defining Tech
        • Technology, Crafts, Sciences, and some other Abilities (for example, Academics, Computer, or Esoterica for mystic technomancers) are all closely related. You may have to have several Abilities to do a thing well. Here are some guidelines about what you’ll need for your technocrat, technomancer, or hypertechnician.
        • Crafts -Manufacturing that hard drive? Blowing the plastic mold and inserting the circuits into it? Creating the dashboard? That’s Crafts.  Crafts loosely deals with creating and designing the materials the technology is made of or housed in. The housing, glass, the metal, the arrangement of things within the case. There will be some overlap here with Technology.
        • Computer – Writing a computer program? Hacking into the data bank? Starting a flame war on Twitter? Designing a new computer  system? That’s Computer. Computer deals with Information Technology, both hardware, software, and the cultures associated with it. The higher your rating, the deeper understanding of hardware, software, interface, the Internet, and IT culture in general you have.
          • Certain tasks (like advanced programming or repair) and systems (especially the arcane tech employed by technomancers) demand at least three or four dots in this Trait before your character can even begin to understand them.
          • A mage cannot channel a Sphere Effect through a computer unless they have at least as many dots in Computer as he has in that Sphere (see Trinary Computers below).
          • Computer Versus Technology
            • Computer and Technology have a lot of overlap when it comes to what they do, and are complimentary. Most tech-mages have both. Someone problems might be able to be solved by Computer or Technology like say a hardware problem, but Technology won’t help you code a website. Technology could help you figure out what kind of Computer it is based on the hardware, but its operating system would be a mystery. Likewise, Computer doesn’t help you fix a car, rewire a house, or repair an MRI machine (but you could hack the software that runs it).
            • For those wishing to specialize in Information Technology at the exclusion of all else may swap in Computer in place of Technology for their Hypertech cap stat. This limits what you can create with Hypertech to Information Technology, however.
        • Technology  –  The circuit board that runs the MRI needs to be repaired? Figuring out why the dump trunk won’t dump? Diagnosing the sensor light on the dashboard of your car? That’s Technology. Technology loosely deals with the functioning of anything technological. Like Medicine, its about diagnosing, fixing, or tinkering with modern gadgets and gizmos. It also deals with expanding or inventing such things, but there are limits. Sure, you can invent a new computer hardware design or get your iPhone to run Windows, but to invent a whole new computer type system then you’ll need Science as well.
          • Technology versus Science – Technology deals with existing Sleeper technology. The research to make it work has already been done. You can tinker with it to a degree to get it to work better or differently, but you’re not really inventing something new. That would be Science. One informs the other, but its often a matter of scale. Inventing a gadget would be Technology, but leading a huge R&D project is Science.  For example, with Technology you can make the electrical wiring in your house work better. With Science you can research and evaluate the electrical grid for the entire city.
        •  Medicine- Medicine allows you to diagnose and treat injury and disease. It’s essentially modern, science-based medicine. EMTs, nurses, physicians assistants, doctors, surgeons etc. If you follow the Technocratic view of medical science then take Medicine.
          • Medicine versus Science – Medicine is more of an art. It applies the research done elsewhere in clinical settings. Can doctors do research? Sure, but stat-wise they often have Science with a specialty as well as medicine. A biologist certainly knows a lot about the human body, but you don’t want them taking a tumor out of your brain. Likewise, the country doctor wouldn’t know where to begin to set up a large-scale clinical trial, but they could set a bone in an instant. If you just want to heal folks, all you need is Medicine. If you want to blaze a trail in medical science then you also need Science.
          • Medicine-Work As A Practice – “For the purposes of magickal practice, the term medicine work refers to the intent to heal and the choice of techniques that enhance healing, not to the specific method a mage uses when healing injuries or disease,” (M20 pg. 281)

            • Medicine Work does not always require Medicine, but if you want it to be coincidental it just might! Those wishing to  use more mystic or alternative means of healing should take Esoterica or perhaps Academics with some sort of specialty.
          • Medicine & Mysticism – These two things are not mutually exclusive. You’re Celestial Chorus doctor can easily see the One’s divine plan expressed through modern medicine.
        • Hypertech – That Trinary drive? That Ethership? That Plasma Cannon? That Progenitor cloning tank? That’s all hypertech. While it is related to Technology it operates under advanced principals not accepted or understood by the Sleepers. Hypertech often relies on Crafts and Technology for its component parts, but the end product is usually a departure from them. The Ethership has something in common with airplanes, submarines, and spaceships as far as its design, construction, and component parts, but the result is something far more advanced. That’s hypertech.
          • Hypertech Versus Sleepertech (trademark pending) – Generally speaking, hypertech are Devices or Effects expressed through technology. A good rule of thumb: If a Sleeper can’t distinguish it from “magic” or something they saw on Star Trek (which is magic by another name) its hypertech.
          • Pilot vs. Hypertech – The number of dice you can use for pilot rolls using hypertech vehicles not of your own or your Convention/Tradition’s making is capped by your level of hypertech. You still have to use hypertech to figure out how to pilot it first, however.
        • Biotech – Biotech is narrowly defined as the Enhancement Ability in M20. We’ve decided to make Biotech is a subset of Hypertech. Anything Enhancement or biotech related uses the associated Biotech specialty: Biotech – Cybernetics, Biotech – Biomods, and Biotech – Genengineering.
          • Cybernetics, Biomods and Genegineering specialties are not subject to the same restriction as the hard tech is. These are highly specialized fields that deal almost exclusively with organic or biological material rather than hard tech. There’s very little overlap between, say, building an Ethership and uplifting a dog. Those wishing to specialize in this area are restricted to Biotech hypertech, but see below on their cap stat.
          • Hypertech that specializes in Biomods or Genengineering is capped by the mage’s Science rating, and requires the Biology specialty.
          • Hypertech that specializes in Cybernetics is capped by the mage’s Science rating, and requires the Cybernetic specialty. In this case, Cybernetics is a multi-disciplinary field that involves both electronic engineering and biology.
    • Inventing and Modifying Tech
      • Inventing a new gadget or doo-dad takes time and a lot of work. The difficulties and number of successes are listed in Mage 20 on page 463. Expect to fail. A lot.
      • Generally you are gonna be rolling Intelligence + Technology, as well as several other related Abilites (like Crafts, Computer, or Science). Difficulties remain the same. The story will dicate what rolls are made.
      • Inventions that defy the current laws of reality are Devices.
        • Mages can push at those laws to a degree. Making the technology do something it is already capable of doing, but better is fine. Making it do something that modern technology can’t do or that this tech isn’t designed to do isn’t. A good rule of thumb is if the Sleepers wouldn’t be able to do it in the next 3 to 5 years then it won’t function outside your Sanctum. For example, a Virtual Adept could create a computer that is a little faster than the current models, but a quantum laptop would need to involved some sort of magick. A Progentior could grow exceptionally good, vitamin rich cultured meat, but not a human heart. The latter would require a Procedure or a Device. This is not a matter of appearances, either. Reality knows.
      • Systems for inventing and modifying hypertech are the same as for Sleeper-tech, but you use the Hypertech Ability instead.
  • If I specialized in Computer or Biotech, can I also build machines or hard tech?
    • Potentially yes, but your Hypertech dice pool for hard-tech or non-InfoTech will be restricted to your Technology rating.
      • Example: Sally the Progenitor has Science (Biology) 5, and Hypertech 5. She wants to invent a new cloning tank. Her Technology is only 2. So she can only use 2 of her Hypertech pool to build it.

Familiar

    • Familiars may possess both Special Advantages & Charms
    • For the purpose of Charms, Familiars roll their Willpower in place of Gnosis.
      • Familiars technically have neither Rage nor Gnosis in their embodied forms. These provide dice pools for mechanical purposes only.
    • The Ferocity advantage is not actually Rage. It’s a Rage-like advantage that functions in a similar manner. If a Rage roll is called for the Familiar rolls Willpower instead.
    • Quintessence feeding and Paradox consumption is as written in M20 (pg.316)
    • Familiars gain the following Special Advantages & Flaws at no cost:
      • Bond-Sharing – This is as written on page 315 of M20. If folks want the benefits of the 4 or 6 point version they may be purchased at the listed cost.
      • Paradox Nullification – Familiars use the rates listed on page 315 of M20 rates for Paradox Nullification NOT the Merit version.
      • Thaumnivore – Familiars use the rates listed on page 315 of M20 NOT the Flaw version.
        • Familiars also cannot take Flaws or Advantages related to their natural form. For example, an animal Familiars cannot take the Animal flaw, but in exchange they automatically gain the natural advantages (claws, talons, fangs, beaks, wings) of their form. They may take improved versions of them, however.
    • Character creation is as written in Gods & Monsters (pg. 187) with the following exceptions:
      • Freebies points are based on the level of familiar.
      • 1 – 10 Freebies
      • 2 – 20 Freebies
      • 3 – 30 Freebies
      • 4 – 40 Freebies
      • 5 – 50 Freebies
    • For Familiars with bodies assume their Rage and Gnosis are equal the familiar’s Willpower. While in their embodied form Familiars cannot access Rage or Gnosis, however.
    • PC Familiars (who, per above, don’t have distinct Rage and Gnosis pools) will treat their Essence rating as equal to three times their Willpower ratings.  Gods & Monsters calls on familiars to have their Essence treated differently from other spirits, but we will not be doing that here.  Thus, Familiars have two health pools: Physical (health), and spiritual (Essence).  The latter is depleted when using charms that expend Essence.  Recharging is by the book.
    • NPC Familiars (that is, familiars bought as backgrounds) do not receive XP.
    • The mage can spend XP to raise their Familiar rating, and gain more Freebies to spend, but Familiar advancement is capped at 50 Freebies total, including Flaws.
    • Total number of Merits & Flaws is is 7.
    • Familiars may take Backgrounds as listed in Gods & Monsters. What Backgrounds are appropriate is handled by form of the Familiar case by case.

Seekings

In a tabletop game of Mage: The Ascension, the Storyteller will run personalized, one-on-one plots for Mages who Seek greater power from their Avatars. These are exciting opportunities to try out unique and unusual role playing situations that let characters grow in unexpected ways.

A seeking on Liberation is a more (although not entirely) player-directed activity. A player who wishes to seek must consider what the character has done in the last months or years since last ICly gaining Arete. How has the character used his or her power? Are there any patterns or trends?

Compare those trends with what the character’s Avatar or Eidolon wants. In Character Generation, you were asked to elaborate on what the Avatar or Eidolon has as desires and goals. Is the PC living up to these goals, or is the PC distracted by other things? Could the PC advance to another level of achieving those goals?

Either way the character either needs a wake-up call, or an opportunity to grow. Consider how the character’s Avatar or Eidolon would intervene, goad, pressure, or persuade the character to take a step forward. How would the character be encouraged to work toward the Avatar/Eidolon’s goals for a change, or be given a chance to move even further in that direction?

Some avatars are strong, and others are weak. Some avatars have personality, while others are more Circumspect. But they all exist, and they all influence their Mages. It is central to the seeking to consider how that avatar will attempt to influence your Mage.

Seekings will not be guaranteed to succeed. If Directors think there’s not enough meaningful change there, we’ll tell you why.

Feel free to submit a +request regarding a seeking, and discuss with your Directors what direction you think a Seeking could take, and how you could make this story work.

The Gauntlet

  • Gauntlet-piercing effects will require excess successes per Mage the Ascension 20th page 505.  That means for the typical LA Gauntlet of 7, that’s 4 extra successes to cross the Gauntlet, on top of any successes to implement  the effect, set duration, etc.

Life: Improving Attributes

  • Raising Attributes via Life or Mind permanent requires expenditure of XP.
    • Sphere requirements
      • Life = Dexterity, Stamina, Strength, and Appearance
      • Mind = Intelligence, Wits, Perception
      • Charisma and Manipulation requires both Life and Mind at the right ranks as they are a complex mix of body language and emotional intelligence.
    • Casting Requirements
      • Temporary
        • Temporary changes may be performed on a 1 Success per Attribute dot basis (see +bbread 2/36 for additional HRs on this).
      • Permanent Changes
        • Permanent changes are a significant undertaking, and ritual casting rules apply to these.
        • Each roll is a chapter’s worth of work.
        • Effect Successes are still 1 Success per Attribute dot.
        • Duration is scored separately, and 6 successes are required to raise an Attribute permanently.
    • The Price
      • Attribute raises, whether they be physical, mental or social, using magick require a reasonable and realistic time lapse before each raise.
      • Raising your Attributes more than 1 dot at a time or too quickly earns you a permanent point of Paradox per dot above the first.
  • Other Alterations and Special Features
    • Other alterations (claws, wings etc.) give the mage a point of permanent Paradox per alteration

Mind & Obfuscate

In most cases, Mind Shields operate as written. Obfuscate is often so subtle that they do not rise to the level of being noticed. For example, a vampire using Obfuscate in a crowd would not trigger a Mind Shield check. In cases where an Obfuscated vampire is in the same space, but is not actively evading or spying on a mage with Mind or a Mind Shield the intrusion goes unnoticed. In the case where the vampire is actively evading or bothering the mage assume that the mage’s Mind sphere subs in for what would normally be an Auspex rating. In all other situations contact Sundance for PVP adjudication.

Fae Sight

To get Fae / Chimerical sight, Mind 1 is the base requirement. Additionally, Matter 1 is required to see the truth of objects, and Life 1 for living beings. Thus, total Fae sight is an effect requiring Mind 1 + Matter 1 + Life 1. Additionally, the PC must be able to establish reason to know such things exist, with enough familiarity to concoct such an effect.

To give others this ability requires Mind 2 + Matter 1 and/or Life 1. Additionally, a minimum of two successes are required.

Language

    • Language Merit is for living languages only.
    • Scholarly mages frequently make use of dead languages. Since these language have little use outside scholarship or scholarly magick mages wishing to make use of them may purchase an Academics specialty of Mystic Languages, and call it a day. Please have your Director approve a note specifying which language(s) you know. There’s not hard limit on how man you can know, but they must be languages you actually make sure of in your practices.

Resonance & Synergy

In 1st and 2nd edition Mage, Resonance was a narrative device that described the impressions magick left on the world and mages. Mage Revised offered a more mechanical approach to Resonance. The M20 rules are an attempt to offer mage players the best of all editions of Resonance, but their complexity works best in table top games with small groups of players. With that in mind, we’re opting for something closer to 2nd edition.

We’re opting for a simplified system. Mages have single trait called Resonance.

For mechanical purposes, the relative strength of a mage’s Resonance is the rating of their highest Sphere (usually their Affinity Sphere). This is a rule of thumb not a hard and fast rule.

Resonance is mysterious and will largely be handled through narrative means. The strength of a mage’s Resonance should only be discussed in mechanical terms when absolutely necessary instead opting for words like faint, indistinct, sharp, overwhelming, or strong.

Resonance may manifest in any an all the ways listed starting on page 131 of the Book of Secrets. Resonance manifestation is left up to the player and/or the Storyteller, and should be used to add mystery and atmosphere to the story. Players are encouraged to let Resonance come and go as role-playing demand.