Posts Tagged ‘mage: the ascension’

Abilities in M20: Brawl Additions!

September 26, 2015

Okay, so anybody that read my previous M20 related post knows that my initial reaction to the division between Brawl and Martial Arts in M20 was extremely negative. During a discussion with Satyros Phil Brucato, the game’s developer, in the M20 Facebook group, this fact came up, and I’ll shortly get to why that fact is relevant to this post. I have great respect for his wide ranging talents, his creativity and his hard-charging work ethic, even if I don’t always agree with his output. To be honest, how could anybody ever really always agree with another creator’s or artist’s or writer’s output if they’re actually thinking for themselves? It’s just not going to happen. So long as folks can be polite about those creative differences, cool.

Anyhow, Satyros argued that I was giving this particular creative decision short shrift and that I ought to take a closer look at how he integrated a meaningful distinction between the two more fully into the combat system and also built it into the Focus rules. He pointed out that this distinction was not exactly new to the Storyteller System, having appeared previously in Kindred of the East and World of Darkness: Combat back during the 2nd edition era. To that last I maintain that I disliked the division back then too and don’t care for either of those prior books. I took those rules’ having been left out of the Revised editions of Vampire, Mage and Werewolf as a sign that White wolf had moved on from the concept also at least insofar as the Storyteller system was concerned. He suggested that I step back, blank my slate and ignore the negative associations I have with the prior sources and look over the combat and focus systems on their own merits with an open mind. This I have done over the course of the past month or more, mulling over the implications of the division within the rules themselves, on play and how I feel about said implications. A more serious and thoughtful dive into the book did change my views on a number of things from my first impressions (the value of Esoterica, for example), but I hardly found all points persuasive. (more…)

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M20 and a Syndicate Character Concept

June 10, 2015

Backers of the 20th Anniversary Edition of Mage: the Ascension have got their hands on the prerelease version of the PDF, and though I’m sure there’ll be updates, what backers (like myself) have is largely what the final game is going to look like. My own impression is, of course, mixed, as the reception of anything related to Mage inevitably will be given the nature of the game and its interminable edition wars, paradigm-related flamewars etc.

Overall, it’s well constructed with an eye towards giving fans of all three prior editions something to smile about, and it also embarks on the challenging task of updating the setting and Awakened society without stifling creativity, making the Spheres, Paradigm and Consensual Reality more accessible to players as well, with laudable aplomb and skill.

While I could do without it being “Mage: now with 500% more kung fu!” that last part’s easy enough to fix by dropping that superfluous Skill along with a couple of other similarly unnecessary additions and possibly tweaking how players can get access to those pages upon pages of martial arts-related special maneuvers. The addition of Martial Arts as a separate Ability from Brawl feels reminiscent of Kindred of the East, The Book of Combat and Exalted. Man, I feel dirty from having had to reference any of those three in my blog, let alone all three in one post. However, that particular (minor but noisy) gripe isn’t what got me writing tonight.

No, what got me writing tonight is a character concept that leapt all but full fledged into my brain while I was making catfish tacos with mango salsa for dinner tonight (they were awesome, incidentally). One of the great things about the rise of Onyx Path is that they finally made the (beautifully nuanced) Revised-era Technocracy convention books that White Wolf left hanging after the excellent Iteration X Convention book. Probably my favorite from that line was, of all things, The Syndicate (though I disagreed with cutting off the SPD, but hey… I just might be biased) for its very interesting exploration of an easily demonized and oft-caricatured Convention.

Anyhow, as I was cooking, I was thinking on the Syndicate and on the Management and Human Resources sidebar from M20 and extrapolating on that. I was also thinking of sympathetic Syndicate mages, and then a character concept occurred to me. Here’s a  breakdown of the concept below:


 

Healthcare Provider

You always felt the calling to be a healer. To nurture the growing, heal the hurting and comfort those whose loved ones are beyond help. Therefore, like many young people, you dreamed of becoming a doctor. Life has a funny way of kicking people right in the dreams sometimes. You had good grades in high school that gave you high hopes. Though you were a fine student, your real aptitudes were always people and groups and the “soft subjects” like debate and speech rather than biology or chemistry: you were the treasurer and student council rep for the Rotaract Club, and were a natural leader.

Still, you were determined to be a healer. Between your grades, extracurriculars, charm and skillfully leveraged family connections you entered a prestigious med school. That’s where your dreams started to crumble: while smart and competent, you just weren’t cut out to excel as a physician. Surrounded with driven, genuinely gifted med students, you rapidly fell into (and then below) the middle of the pack. Then you had to face the heartbreaking truth and find something else to do with your life. (more…)

Awakening: Procedures

June 21, 2014

(This is a side bit from ACWoD/ The Awakening Chronicle, from Story 4: City of Angels. I’ll periodically post other side bits from the chronicle here as time goes on.)

Special Agent Luz Martinez pursed her lips as the tracking bullet embedded in the Superstitionists’ bumper failed to respond to its activation code. Her tracking Procedure was being jammed. She tried several applicable alternate frequencies, but was unable to sufficiently modulate it to penetrate interference and pick up a signal, and she finally acknowledged that her own apparatus was unlikely to get a fix on their location before they could find and dispose of the device. One smack to the dash of her service vehicle communicated her annoyance, and then she was once again the picture of operational professionalism.

“So we lost them,” Agent Sumner stated matter-of-factly. The Man in Black pulled the nondescript black sedan over and looked over to his senior partner, mirrorshades glinting in the late morning sunlight slanting in through the windshield.

“Yes,” she replied calmly. “They won’t flee the city again yet; they wouldn’t have risked returning here without a solid reason.”

“Agreed,” Sumner said and checked the radio, not picking up any reference to their quarry.

“We don’t know where they are or where they’re going right now,” Martinez said to herself, “But let’s see where they’ve been.” She called the display in her mirrorshades online and patched in to the vehicle’s onboard computer and communications array with a couple of subvocalized commands into her wireless headset,

Satellite Location, UID CZ411, timestamp 30032011-1106. Magnify. Isolate targets at 1200 and 1155. Magnify.

She regarded the vehicles and reviewed their information and the analysis she had already been sent by Bates, her Amalgam’s Watcher. The sports car first: 2007 Dodge Charger, red, NY license plate # ADL 4681, registered: Brennan, Rowena Brighid. Ms. Brennan’s driver’s license photo matched the woman Martinez and her partner had seen. Ident confirmed, she notated, adding Probable Reality Deviant.

Next, the battered van that she had picked up first, and which had been the reason for her picking up the pursuit: 1975 Dodge Ram Van, brown, CA license plate # 3LUE042, registered: Milton, Irene Ruby. The identification of its color as “brown” was certainly suspect as far as Agent Martinez was concerned, but she let that slide. The flag of what had initially caught her attention earlier when she ran the plates was much more interesting to her: Vehicle matches one identified via satellite departing facility at +35° 41′ 1.46″, -116° 50′ 11.05″ designation “Overwatch HQ” prior to said facility’s destruction via aerial strike. Vehicle believed to be operated by Reality Deviant designated “Eel,” wanted for reality crimes and for murder of Enlightened and UnEnlightened Personnel in connection to attack at US Bank Tower Dispatch Center. Last confirmed sighting: Las Vegas, NV. Detain and question operator. If positive identification is obtained, subject to be processed or terminated. Subject to be considered armed and dangerous. Known associates: probable Reality Deviant designated “Steve” [status: unknown]; Reality Deviant designated “Umbra” [status: unknown]… she noted that this “Umbra” fellow was probably the same man that had been the passenger in Brennan’s vehicle.

“Bates,” she said via comm to her Watcher, “What else have we got on file for these people?”

“Getting what I can now, Agent. There. There’s not much. Both ‘Umbra’ and ‘Eel’ have very sparse information, considering that both are known to have been part of Incident 05092010-B17,” Bates responded. Off the record the area’s Operatives had dubbed the prior year’s debacle “The Non Event” in a tongue in cheek reference to the Herculean lengths to which their Methodology and the NSC had been called upon to go to contain the outbreak of deviant anomalies and to maintain the ignorance of the Masses afterwards. “I suspect that there are further details that are classified,” he elaborated, though for a moment Martinez entertained a paranoid, niggling suspicion that perhaps the paucity of records might be due to tampering instead. Further inquiry and request for access to classified documents would be warranted. There would be time for that and a review of other known associates later.

“I need to trace the movements of the two suspect vehicles, Bates. Designate Suspect vehicle 3LUE042 as Primary, ADL 4681 Secondary.”

“On it,” he answered and she heard him talking with his staffers for a moment before he patched what he had been able to get through to her onboard computer. “The satellites didn’t get complete coverage of that space and period, but I think I can stitch most of it together by cross-referencing the traffic camera system where possible and extrapolating the rest,” he advised.

Collating, her display informed her. Plotting movements of suspect vehicles back to timestamp 1036. Looking at the map of their movements, she observed that they had at one point converged on a point in silverlake and parked there for a while, and so she had the system home in on the timestamp of their arrival and magnified the imagery to see what they had been doing there. Brennan and a pair of suspects that she felt she could confidently confirm as “Umbra” and “Eel” along with several other as-yet unidentified persons emerged from three vehicles and met with the occupants of two automobiles that had arrived shortly before them.

The tense confrontation between the two parties played out silently for her. Deviance detected: increased mass and bodily transformation, three subjects. UnEnlightened observers of Anomaly: 0. Luz shook her head, grateful that the RDs had at least had that much decency. The shroud-barreled, slabsided weapon that one of the deviants brandished caught her attention as well, and she commanded the system: Search records for pictured firearm. The results came back after a moment: IMI Vanguard pistol, chambering 12.7mm Sagittarius gyrojet ammunition. Hypertech, pending approval for insertion into Consensus.

“Where did our cowboy get hold of one of those beasts anyhow?” she asked rhetorically. That would bear further investigation, but she decided that he and his companions were not the primary targets just yet, and she added a notation to open up further lines of inquiry.

She noted how after the group including the wielder of the experimental firearm departed, the group of targets swapped from one vehicle to another before splitting up and she decided to stick with the primary target for the moment, and traced the battered old van back to a neighborhood in West LA. The imaging was too patchy at that point for some reason to pick out a specific house, but Bates advised her that he could readily pinpoint their stopping point to within a one block radius.

“Sumner, we’ve got them,” Martinez said with some satisfaction. “We’ve got some more due diligence to perform and some classified records to request access to, but we’ll find them. There are a couple of fish here that really need catching.”

“What were Hart’s instructions when you reported you’d spotted the van?” Sumner asked by way of reminder.

“To proceed with all caution,” Martinez replied firmly. “Let’s get the rest of the Amalgam involved and see if we can’t requisition a little more help. We’re going to need some backup.”

Dreams, Memories and Tomorrows

May 24, 2012

(This story bit overlaps with Falling Awake and The Morning Breaks but mostly takes place after both)

It was about 2 or 3 in the morning when Ro finally rubbed her tired eyes and stretched. She could easily refresh herself and go for quite a while without sleeping, but sleeping allowed one to dream and process. Besides, Joseph was only marginally awake and she’d done all she could for this leg of Linda’s journey.

“Okay… I’m going to get a few hours of shut-eye. You do the same, huh?” Her blue eyes rested on the garou male a long moment, expression soft and a little wistful. They’d talked on and off since bringing Linda back to the house. Some surprises and ‘aha!’ moments on both sides led both of them to a greater understanding, she hoped. “Hold her tight and I’ll be back when she wakes, or a little after.”

“I’ll do that,” he said softly and flashed her a charming, white-toothed smile. Joseph was undeniably handsome, but he was also a man that knew how to listen and was good at drawing people out to talk about themselves. Also, he remembered the details later and could retell them to sound more exciting and meaningful than they had to the original teller. “Sleep well, Ro. She’ll be safe with me.” (more…)

The Morning Breaks

May 19, 2012

(The below is a direct follow up to Falling Awake)

Amrita had rolled into lotus after her last pose of the morning, body sweating pleasantly from one of her more strenuous routines. Her connection to Gaia was still strong this morning, and she let her awareness expand in the meditative state, flowing into “all that is” with each exhalation. It was a kind of pleasure that was difficult to explain to anyone who’d never felt something similar, that letting go of the ego-self in favor of the ultimate release into everything at once. But those who’d been there knew it too, and sometimes that had to be enough.

She was deeply aware of the shifts of consciousness in the house. One such shift rang like a bell in her own consciousness, just as the sun peaked above the eastern horizon.

Linda had awakened. (more…)

Perfect!

May 4, 2012

Argh!
I was thinking about Mage: the Ascension rotes, and my brain threw up a little with cross-pollinated ideas. If I ever run a Euthanatos with Forces 3, I’m going to be horribly tempted to have him shout “Yoga Fire!”
At least that’s better than what I’d be tempted to have an Akashic Brother say…

 

Stop looking at me that way. White Wolf DID make the Street Fighter RPG too.

Falling Awake

April 12, 2012

All was pain and anguish. Howls and the beating of drums pounding in her head, a scratching and clawing beneath her own skin, and a horrid, agonized shrieking that only she could hear.

A powerful, furred set of arms was wrapped firmly yet gently about her and her face was pressed into the chest of their owner, a tender, slim human hand was clasped hard in her ghastly claw, and a cooling, soothing sensation radiated from the little metallic devices that were adhering to her temples. These few comforts she clung to as best she could through unknown hours of suffering.

Again the howling came, and the comforting hand, the supporting arms and the calming devices were gone.

Her eyes closed. (more…)

On the Technocracy

March 10, 2012

I’ve often heard it said that the Technocracy are the real heroes of the old World of Darkness. It is true that the Technocracy is supposedly a protector of humanity against the Things outside… but in true dystopian style, they are a protector from whom humanity badly needs protection.

Yes, the Traditions grow from the mythic threads of ancient archmages that were basically arrogant douchebags and the Order of Reason rose up for entirely justified reasons (IE protecting humanity from those jerks)… but the road to Hell is, as ever, paved with good intentions.

I don’t buy the Technocracy as the hero of the oWoD. I don’t really truly buy there as actually being one group that is in fact the hero of the oWoD. The Garou and some of the other Fera try, but… yeah. The Traditions try, but…yeah. The Imbued? They’re crazy dupes working for renegade angels with a grudge. The Amenti are probably the best candidate, but they’re way too little too late.

Are individuals within all of the above groups undeniably heroes? Absolutely. Usually tragic heroes, but certainly individual members of the Technocracy, even fairly highly placed ones, sometimes do have the best interests of other people in mind and that try to be heroic. The same applies to all of these other groups as well.

Probably my biggest problem with the Technocracy (and note that I like them, I really do) as heroes is that they are an inherently and determinedly dishonest and manipulative entity. (more…)

Awakening: The Battle of Cinder Cone

December 20, 2011

This sequence is a cutscene related to chapters 2-3 of The Enemy of My Enemy, the second story of the Awakening Chronicle.

*     *     *     *     *

Joseph Chases-the-Dream rejoined his pack after consulting with the mixed task force of mages, Garou and Kinfolk that had volunteered to strike at the witches beneath Cinder Cone and found his pack alpha Mingan Leaps-Like-cougar, the Wyrmfoe of the Sept of the Boiling Earth, addressing the several gathered packs. Joseph noted that a ways off from the group stood a tall, ragged bespectacled white man with close-cropped hair: Marcus Falcon’s-Resolve, who had been Ostracized. The other Garou present were ignoring his existence, neither welcoming nor forbidding him: he did not exist in their eyes, and Joseph blinded himself to the disgraced Silver Fang as well.

Mingan spoke: “We of the Warpath shall be the head of the arrow aimed at their hearts. Spear Dancers, follow immediately behind us, and the rearguard shall be the Black Wings,” Leaps instructed them as he reviewed the plan of attack. He gave each pack their assignments of which portions of Cinder Cone’s peak each was to sweep clear.

“The Wyrmbringers have numbers. They have high ground, and distance, and they are armed with silver ammunition,” Leaps stated gravely, “We must advance up a steep slope to fight them, and we have no cover other than what we ourselves can create. (more…)

Awakening: Calling Down the Rain

December 3, 2011

This is a side scene detailing some of the off-camera action from the Awakening Chronicle. It is concurrent with chapters 2-3 of The Enemy of My Enemy.

 * * * * *

Bill and Marco watched through the window as Solomon Wright bani Bonisagus performed a ritual that instantly transported the cabal of outsider mages and consors across many miles’ distance to the northeastern portion of Lassen National Park, and once the wave of magical force passed they looked to one another dubiously. Marco was a dark, heavily tattooed young man of mixed Hispanic and Native American ancestry with spiked hair, a ripped t-shirt and jeans that might have come out of an aerosol can. Bill was close to the same age but considerably taller, and was a lanky but reasonably fit man wearing rugged work pants and a cabled turtleneck sweater. His long brown hair was swept behind his ear for the moment but it was prone to falling free and obscuring parts of his face.

Marco was the first to break the seemingly endless silence, “Doesn’t feel right letting that bunch of strangers go off and fight our battles while we’re just staring at the walls, man.” (more…)