Mage: The Ascension



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Casting Guide

The Mechanics of Casting

To cast an effect, roll Arete. Calculating successes works as follows:

Number of Targets (excludes self-targeting and sensory magic) + Desired Duration + additional Threshold (if there is any) + at least 1 success applied to the Effect itself

Threshold is the minimum number of successes needed to cast an effect. Some types of effects require additional threshold beyond the standard. Especially difficult or outlandish feats should call for more successes. Any attempts to pierce the gauntlet or to cast across time or space will increase the effect's threshold. In such cases, players will need to make use of the Time, Correspondence and Gauntlet charts listed below. Combo effects, or those that attempt to do multiple things at once, may also increase the threshold, at ST (or player) discretion.

Spending a point of WP on an effect will give an automatic success. Only 1 point of WP may be spent in this way per roll.

Multiple Targets
When an Effect is successfully cast against multiple targets, the full force of the effect hits each one (it is not split between them.)

Duration Chart

  • 0 successes = 1 turn
  • 1 success = 1 scene
  • 2 successes = 1 day
  • 3 successes = 1 month
  • 4 successes = 6 months
  • 5 successes = Storyteller's option
  • 6+ Successes = Permanent (at Storyteller's option)

Correspondence Ranges

Successes Range Connection
1 Line of sight Body sample
2 Very familiar Close possession or companion
3 Familiar Possession or casual friend
4 Visited once Casual acquaintance or object used once
5 Described location Briefly touched or met object or person
6+ Anywhere on Earth No connection

Time Lines

Successes Effect Time-Span
1 Within a year
2 Five years
3 20 years
4 50 years
5 100 years
6+ 500 years
10+ 1000 years or more


Area Difficulty Successes Needed
Node 3 One
Deep Wilderness 5 Two
Rural Countryside 6 Three
Most Urban Areas 7 Four
Downtown 8 Five
Technocratic Lab 9 Five

Feats of Illusion

Successes Illusion
1 Simple, one sensation (sight, sound, scent, etc.)
2 Simple and moving, one sensation
3 Complex and stationary, or simple and moving (two sensations)
4 Complex and moving (several sensations)
5 Complex and reflexive (multiple sensations)
6+ Complex and interactive (full sensations)

Determining Difficulty

  • Coincidental = Highest Sphere used in the effect + 3
  • Vulgar = Highest Sphere + 4
  • Vulgar with Sleeper Witnesses = Highest Sphere + 5
  • Using a personalized instrument: -1
  • Using a unique instrument: -1
  • Using a unique and personalized instrument: -2 (total)
  • Working with unfamiliar instruments: +2 / +1
  • Working without usual instruments: +3
  • Using instruments when you don't need to: -1
  • Using personal item from target (sympathetic magick): -1 to -3
  • Appropriate resonance (personal, instrument, ritual or Tass): -1
  • Opposed resonance (personal, instrument, ritual or Tass): +1
  • Manipulating Mythic Threads / hypernarrative: -1
  • Spending Quintessence: -1 per point, max -3
  • Spending extra time (per additional turn each roll; max -3): -1
  • Fast-casting: +1
  • Turning time backwards: +3
  • Researches lore about subject before using magick: -1 to -3
  • Near a Node: -1 to -3
  • Distant or hidden target or subject: +1
  • Mage distracted: +1 to +3
  • Mage in conflict with Avatar: +1 to +3
  • Outlandish to godlike feat: +1 to +3

Note that modifiers to base difficulty may not exceed +3 or -3, total, and that the minimum difficulty for casting an effect is 3.

Example of Casting

Mark wishes to calm a crying child through the use of Mind magic, so he casts Empathic Projection (Mind 2). His roll happens as follows:

[Arete 2, diff 5 (Mind 2 + 3 for a coincidental effect) -1 for using his personal focus, -1 for taking his time = diff 3, spending WP]

The number of successes he needs to calm the girl for the rest of the scene would be:

1 (target) + 1 (duration) + 1 = 3

He rolls 2 successes, plus the automatic success gained from WP, totaling to 3 successes. If he had not gained the required number of successes, then he could have extended the effect at +1 difficulty and rolled again.

Direct Damage Effects

Direct damage effects are direct attacks on an opponent that translate into immediate damage in the form of health levels. These effects do not require any successes to be spent on duration, as they are considered "instant" effects. Scoring damage from these attacks works as follows:

All successes beyond those required to target = 2 health levels of damage.

  • Forces attacks do +1 additional level of damage beyond this (total, not per success)
  • All Direct Damage attacks do unsoakable lethal or aggravated damage (depending on the form the attack takes,) except for Mind attacks, which do bashing (and can be soaked.)

Note: Some magical attacks can be dodged, just as a character would dodge a blow from a sword. Successes scored on evasion rolls subtract from those scored on the effect.

Subtle Effects

Additional successes scored on an effect may be used to make the effect less noticeable. Successes applied toward subtlety will counter successes used to detect the effect one-for-one.

Sharing Sensory Perceptions

A mage may share their sensory magic with others. To do so, they need Mind 2 + whatever sensory Sphere(s) they wish to share.

Extended Effects

Casting can be extended over multiple turns if needed. To extend an effect, simply roll the effect again at +1 difficulty the following turn. One may continue in this way (the difficulty modifier is not cumulative) for as many turns as the mage is capable of extending, theoretically.

  • If you fail an extended casting roll, you may continue casting at +1 difficulty per failed roll (this one is cumulative.)
  • If an extended roll botches, you may spend 1 WP point and sacrifice 1 turn to keeping the effect going without screwing up the whole affair. Doing so loses you 1 previous success. Further rolls are made at +1 difficulty, as with a fail. This can only be done once. A second botch will destroy the effect.

Note that there is a cap to how many dice rolls are allowed for a single effect. That cap is the Mage's Willpower + Arete. Also note that the more successes an extended effect requires, the longer each roll is going to take. Many standard effects can be extended at a rate of one roll per turn, but lengthy and/or complicated rituals will take more time to work through. As an option, an ST may require that extended rituals needing more than 5 successes take an hour per roll, and that those requiring more than 10 will take 5 hours per roll.


Countermagic can be used to weaken or undo another mage's effect. Countermagic is considered a defensive tactic, so any mage may default to countermagic by aborting their current action, at no penalty.

  • In order to counter an effect, a mage must first know that the effect is being cast. This requires a reflexive Per+Awareness roll (or a successful Prime 1 effect.)

Standard Countermagick

  • To perform countermagick, the mage must have at least 1 dot in one of the Spheres being used by the opponent. Then they simply roll Arete at difficulty 7. Successes gained on a countermagick roll will directly counter those achieved on the opposed effect.
  • Standard countermagick rolls may only be used to counter incoming attacks being made toward the defender.

Protective or Offensive Countermagick

  • This type of countermagick can be used to protect other targets and/or to potentially inflict damage back at the attacker. In addition to the above rules, it requires at least Prime 1 and 1 point of Quintessence.
  • At +1 difficulty, the mage can attempt to dispel an effect being directed toward another target.
  • At +2 difficulty, the mage can turn the effect back on the caster if they manage to achieve more successes on the countermagick roll than the original effect. Every success beyond those achieved on the countered effect will hit the attacker.


  • This type of countermagick hardens reality in order to make casting an effect more difficult. To do this, the mage rolls their level in Prime at difficulty 8 and spends 1 point of Quintessence per success.
  • Each success adds +1 difficulty to the opponent's casting roll.


  • This type of countermagick allows a mage to unweave an effect that was already cast. To do this, they need at least Prime 1 and 1 dot in each of the Spheres used in the original effect. This roll is made at difficulty 8.
  • If Quintessence was spent in the original effect, the mage must spend their own Quintessence to counter it (at the same amount.)

Acting in Concert

(aka: Group Casting)

  • In order to assist another character with an effect, all of the characters involved must have compatible paradigms.  It's necessary to be able to agree on one casting method if multiple mages wish to blend their Wills together.
  • All mages with the necessary sphere ratings to cast the effect roll their dice in full and simply add their successes together.
  • Additional help may be gained from those who cannot cast the effect on their own, but these assistants must still have at least 1 level in each Sphere being used and they only add 1 success each (with a cap of +5.)
  • Mages must choose between using equal participants (those who contribute fully to the effect) or enlightened assistants - they cannot work with both at once.
  • Un-Awakened acolytes may also assist in a ritual if they've been purchased with the Cult background. These assistants add +1 die on the casting roll per dot in the Background.


Depending on a number of different variables, your character may garner paradox when they cast an effect. Paradox is basically what happens when the laws of established reality get offended and slap you in the face.

  • Successful or failed Coincidental effect = No Paradox
  • Botched Coincidental effect = Paradox equal to the highest Sphere used in the effect
  • Successful or failed Vulgar effect without Sleeper witnesses = 1 point of Paradox
  • Botched Vulgar effect without witnesses = Highest Sphere used in the effect + 1
  • Successful or failed Vulgar effect with Sleeper witnesses = 1 point of Paradox
  • Botched Vulgar effect with witnesses = Highest Sphere used x 2, + 2

Note:  When calculating Paradox for extended effects, add +1 per additional roll if any of these rolls botched.  This rule only applies to botches.  Otherwise, calculate as normal.

Paradox accumulates on the Paradox wheel until it either backfires or bleeds off over time.

  • If the total Paradox remains below 5 points, it will bleed off naturally at a rate of 1 point per week.
  • Paradox automatically backfires if the mage takes 5 points or more in a single event, or if the total Paradox reaches 10+ points.
  • An ST may subjectively call for a backlash roll at other dramatically appropriate moments.
  • A Backlash can be staved off temporarily until the end of a scene by spending 1 WP point.


During a backlash, the mage rolls a number of dice equal to the total amount of Paradox that has accumulated, at difficulty 6. Successes achieved on this roll will either inflict (soakable) bashing damage or a Paradox Flaw. In extreme cases, it may instead summon a Paradox spirit and/or send the mage to a Paradox Realm. At higher levels, Paradox can also send a Mage into Quiet.

Successes Effects of Discharge
Botch All Paradox points discharge harmlessly.
No Success No effects, but no Paradox points discharge.
1-5 1 point of Paradox discharged per success. Mage also suffers 1 level of bashing damage per success or acquires a trivial Paradox Flaw.
6-10 1 point of Paradox discharged per success. Mage also suffers 1 level of bashing damage per success or acquires a minor Paradox Flaw.
11-15 Usual Paradox point-discharge, as well as a burn of [bashing] damage or one of the following effects: a significant Paradox Flaw, a Paradox Spirit visitation or a mild Quiet.
16-20 Usual Paradox point-discharge, as well as a burn of [bashing] damage and 1 point of permanent Paradox or two of the following effects: a severe Paradox Flaw, a Paradox Spirit visitation, a moderate Quiet or banishment to a Paradox Realm.
21+ Usual Paradox discharge plus a burn of [bashing] damage AND one of the following effects: 2 points of permanent Paradox, one drastic Paradox Flaw, a Paradox Spirit visitation, a severe Quiet or banishment to a Paradox Realm.


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