My copy of Mage: The Awakening just arrived via FedEx… and I must say that my first impressions, not yet having read it are:

1) Shiney! The book exterior itself is really pretty. This has no
impact on the text itself, but I’m talking about first impressions
having had the thing like 5 minutes now. Looking at it made me say

2) Big. The freaking thing is 400 pages in size. It would take my Werewolf book’s lunch money.

Now, to briefly crack this puppy open and give some more impressions.

3) Internal imagery is interesting. The graphics in the opening fiction
certainly set the mood, and I was glad to see a Tree of Life about 4
pages in. The symbols that appear periodically are cool, but we’ve
known about a lot of them for some time now. As for Kaluta: The jury’s
still out. I do like his artwork and think he did a fine job of giving
this book a visual feel, but I really would have liked to have some
other artists involved too.

4) Vastness. The magic system is huge yet seems pretty quick-flowing…. almost half the book is on casting spells.

I’ll read it in depth later, but these are my first thoughts from
skimming the book itself. I’ve already digested most of the basics of
the system and setting from spoilers, so I don’t need to get into that
just yet except to say that I really like the stuff we saw prior to its
release. Time to see if the actual book can outshine its shiney shiney
cover and the pre-release hype.


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7 Responses to “OooOOOooohh”

  1. creativedv8tion Says:

    So for those of us who were, at best, moderate M:tA fans, and haven’t been following the pre-release teasers/previews/etc, how’s the magic system work, in comparison to the original and on it’s own merit?

  2. uhlrik Says:

    I was only a moderate fan of old Mage myself. I was more of a Werewolf (was the Werewolf head ST in New Bremen that ran the place through the Apocalypse, actually) and Vampire guy. This time around it looks like my preference is going to be Mage. That says something about it right there.

    In comparison to the original: Far superior, IMHO. The vulgarity system seems more internally consistent, and exactly what the Arcana/Spheres do at different levels etc is better expained, and I like the way they handle rotes this time around.

    A few comparisons to follow.

    Old Mage sphere levels had very very vague descriptions of what you could do, along the lines of Level 1 = sensory, level 2 = nudges, Level 3 = moderate effects, Level 4 = big effects, Level 5 = really big effects. It didn’t always seem consistent from Sphere to Sphere, either (to me at least).
    New Mage sits down and takes each level of mastery and breaks it into a set of “practices” (2-4 per level). Each practice can be applied to all Arcana of a given level, and each level also allows for more advanced (bigger) applications of previous practices (also explained). Level 1 arcana aren’t limited to purely sensory effects anymore. You can actually do something with 1 dot in an Arcanum this time round.

    The actual dice mechanics:
    Old Mage: Roll Arete for all spells. If it’s an extended spell, roll multiple times. Rotes lower difficulty by 1, but there’s no rule for how many rotes you can know and no experience cost to learn them, etc.
    New Mage: Improvised (non-rote) spells roll Gnosis (new term for their arete-like concept) + Arcanum. Rotes, on the other hand, call for Attribute + Skill + Arcanum… they completely cut Gnosis out of it, and you’ll usually have a significantly higher dice pool for rotes than for improvised spells. Plus there’s an actual system for creating rotes, learning them and costs to having the things.

    Paradigm and consensual reality are gone. Mages of different groups with the same arcanum levels can actually cast the same spells because they don’t believe the other fellow’s spells are impossible. Major improvement there, IMHO. Even science-using technomages know that what their tech is actually for is to build a sympathetic link to the Supernal Realms and bring their reality to the Fallen World. All real-world occult practices are depicted as being shadows and fragments of the real Supernal truth, and do not have innate power in themselves.

    Paradox makes more sense (to me). Old Mage Revised had it appear on a botch or a vulgar spell, and you took damage automatically plus some nasty paradox effect, and it was based on whether the act fit into the consensus. New Mage, with no Consensus to worry about, has a more consistent approach, and one that’s a bit friendlier to casting spells. It happens whether you botch the spell or not, but hinders the spellcasting roll itself and can cause spells to hit the wrong target or otherwise go awry. the mage has several options for mitigating its effects, including swallowing the backlash internally and taking damage. Sleepers still impact how much paradox you get, but don’t make a spell vulgar or covert.

    No monolithic uber-conspiracies. The Ascension war is gone. The Technocracy is gone. The magical world is much more fractured and fractious this time around.

    Old Mage explicitly divided magic-users into cultural groupings called Traditions that struck me as pigeonholing and racial/cultural stereotyping. This time around it goes for a more universal take, dividing them on more archetypal grounds. One half of the 5×5 splat division is the Path, which is roughly analogous to Essence from the prior game except that it actually matters this time, impacting your specialty Arcana, and fits your personality to your magic rather than what country you’re from or what color your skin was. The other half is Order, which is focussed on what the mage actually uses his magic for. If you’re primarily interested in uncovering secrets and poking your nose where it doesn’t belong, you’re in the Mysterium no matter what cultural practices influence the way you actually cast your spells. No more racism built into the splat system.

    That’s a few of the differences. Probably no room for its own merits in this post.

  3. uhlrik Says:

    Here’s a link where I just put a quick rundown of some of the system-oriented spoiler stuff. It cuts flavor and a lot of the explanatory text and goes for a bare-bones approach. I plan to use the word version of this document for a reference during play once I’ve updated it a bit (haven’t modified it in a few weeks as more spoilers came in like the full Wisdom scale and a more complete explanation of paradox)

  4. creativedv8tion Says:

    Wow, that does all sound very cool.

    I always wanted to run Mage, but barely knew how to play it (only played like 2 sessions ever, and kinda didn’t know what I was doing, but learned a little as I did, and immensely enjoyed it), so that never happened.

    Methinks maybe with this new system… hmm…

  5. creativedv8tion Says:

    Cool, I will czech it out!

  6. uhlrik Says:

    You won’t turk it out? Jerk.

  7. uhlrik Says:

    I do like what I see. Its magic system is at once more sophisticated and more accessible than the former one, and the setting looks better to me too.

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