World of Darkness: Denver

World of Darkness: Denver / Games / Mage: The Ascension

 

Mage: The Ascension

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          Metaplot

          The Chantry

          The Technocratic Union

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          Character Creation

          Merits and Flaws

          XP and Advancement

          Judgment Calls

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"Lolol. Welcome to being a Mage. Here's your PTSD."

-Noel

House Rules and Clarifications


Abilities

General Abilities

In M20, there are a handful of “general” ability traits that need to be purchased separately for each learned discipline within the broader category. However, the ability descriptions tend to be ambiguous and do not in all cases give a clear indication as to exactly which abilities are being handled this way. To avoid confusion, these are the abilities that need to be purchased this way:

Art, Crafts, Martial Arts, Academics*, Esoterica, Science*, Area Knowledge, Lore

*Academics and Science can still be rolled for general knowledge in those fields (representing the kind of broad, basic education one would be likely to get with a bachelor’s degree,) but cannot be rolled for any specialized knowledge that lies outside the character’s chosen expertise.

On this site, we employ the Well-Skilled Craftsman option. This means that additional disciplines can be purchased as specialties (rather than buying the trait itself multiple times) for 4xp each once the ability reaches 4 dots. The book does not list a corresponding freebie cost for this, so if you want to buy extra specialties at creation, they will cost 2 freebies each.

Larceny

Although Larceny was never implemented in M20 as it was in the other 20th anniversary edition games, we do allow its use here. Here is the description as it's written in Vampire:

This Skill entails familiarity with the tools and techniques for the sorts of physical manipulation typically associated with criminal activity. Picking locks, manual forgery, safecracking, simple hotwiring, various forms of breaking and entering, and even sleight-of-hand all fall under the auspices of Larceny. Larceny is useful not only for theft, but also for setting up “the unbeatable system” or deducing where a thief broke in. This skill does not confer any aptitude with advanced security or anti-crime technologies such as video surveillance or alarm systems — those are covered by Technology.

  • Novice: You can pick a simple lock.
  • Practiced: You could run a shell game hustle on the corner.
  • Competent: You can open a standard locked window from the outside.
  • Expert: You can "retool" a passport or ID card.
  • Master: You could get into (or out of...) a multinational bank's central vault.

Specialties: Safecracking, Misdirection, Lockpicking, Hotwiring, Pickpocketing

Rolling Untrained Skills/Knowledges

M20 seems to have left out any mention of how to handle dice rolls using untrained skills and knowledges. However, this may have been an oversight rather than an intentional rule change, given that there is at least one point in the book where a difficulty modifier is referenced. Regardless, we will still be handling this the same way that Revised did. Untrained Skills (those with a rating of 0) are rolled at +1 difficulty, and untrained knowledges cannot be rolled at all.

Optional Rules

Professional Skills and Expert Knowledges: These are not being used on this site. Use the standard core and secondary traits instead.

Body Control: This is allowed (as a specialty for Esoterica) for those characters with appropriate concepts.

The Peaceful Way: Practitioners of Do can use that trait to augment mundane dice rolls by spending 1 point of WP and rolling Do at difficulty 8. Any successes gained can be added to the successes scored by the mundane dice roll. Only those mundane tasks that fit within the Eight Limbs of Expertise may be augmented this way.

Minimum Driving Skill: This is not being used officially in our system. That said, characters are expected to have at least Drive 1 if they want to be able to safely operate a vehicle. Yes, you CAN drive without the Drive skill – the same way you could roll any untrained skill (at +1 diff) - but it isn’t recommended.


Backgrounds

Allies

Allies is handled in this system as a differential background. This means that players should purchase dots for each ally separately (though some low-level Allies can be purchased at two-per-dot.) Allies can be either mundane (Sleepers and Acolytes/Consors) or supernatural (Mages, spirits, manifested avatars, etc.)

  • For mundane allies, the point value is based on the level of influence and usefulness the NPC can provide. When in doubt, feel free to check with the Admin.
  • The point cost for Mage allies is usually determined by the NPC’s highest Sphere rank. Rank 1 allies cost one point, Rank 2 two points, and so on. Anything above Rank 3 is heavily restricted and requires pre-approval from the Admin.

  • All other supernatural allies are restricted by default. Availability will depend on appropriateness and game balance.

Basic stats need to be submitted for Ally NPCs if you wish to ever use them in diced scenarios (otherwise you may not do so.) You may include these in the Notes section of the character sheet. Mage stats should, at max, follow the same creation guidelines as those listed for PCs. Sleepers and Acolytes can range from lower level (Attributes 6/4/3, Abilities 11/7/4, Backgrounds 5, WP 3, 15 freebies) to more moderate level (Attributes 7/5/3, Abilities 13/9/5, Backgrounds 7, WP 4, 30 freebies.) See the Admin if you wish to create a (non-mage) supernatural ally.

Allies can go up in rank as time progresses. To do this, simply purchase the next level in the background. From there you are free to adjust their stats in whatever way you prefer – either all at once or slowly over time.

Optional Rules

Advantages: (This applies to the Enhancement Background) Yes, this option is available. However, like all Enhancements, it is restricted. Talk to the Admin about what you have in mind. It may or may not be allowed, depending.


Combat

Declares

There is no mention of how to handle declares during combat in the M20 core book. In fact, the declare round seems to have been left out entirely in the Dramatic Systems chapter. However, there are a few mentions of declares here and there (the book does, in fact, list rules for changing your declare, so one would assume that there is still an option to make them in the first place) and given the way the system handles things like split actions (which require a declare round in order to really make sense,) we will still be using the Revised declare system in combat.

For anyone unfamiliar with the Revised combat system, the declare round happens after Initiative and prior to rolling dice. During that round, players declare (typically in reverse initiative order) what their character is going to do that turn.

Optional Rules

Those optional rules which apply to combat and/or destructive scenarios will be left up to individual STs. If there is no ST, the players involved in the scene can come to a mutual agreement whether to allow something or not. Or, barring that, ask the Admin.


Casting

Splitting Arete

In previous editions of Mage splitting Arete was impossible, since it always takes at least a full turn to cast an Effect. In M20, there is a brief mention of splitting Arete, but this is never dealt with or explained. So to clarify: mages still cannot split their Arete pool when casting an Effect. The only times this may be possible are when they're rolling Arete for some other purpose - such as countermagick.

Casting Without Necessary Instruments

Normally, Technomancers (Mercurial Elite, Etherites and the like) are unable to use the option (at +3 difficulty and -1 WP) to bypass their instruments when casting effects. However, on this site they are allowed to do so. These mages have regular interaction with the rest of the Traditions and do acknowledge that they're Awake, so we feel that ruling unnecessarily hampers technomancers in comparison to other mages.

Stacked/Simultaneous Effects

As stated in the book, stacking effects can come with a difficulty penalty. However, this rule is disregarded here on Denver Mage. You do not need to apply a difficulty penalty if your character tries to cast multiple effects within the same scene.

Paradox

On this site, Paradox backlashes will always do soakable bashing damage. They do not do lethal or aggravated damage at higher levels, as it states in the book. (Paradox is evil enough as it is.)

Rotes

Any rotes that do not follow the standard M20 Sphere guidelines may not be cast as they're listed in the books. Use your judgment. If something seems off, then it probably is. Rotes from previous editions of the game may be used as inspiration, but it's possible/likely you'll need to change the listed Spheres in order to cast it.

Masking Resonance

Mind 2 can be used to alter or mask your character’s inherent Resonance. However, just to be clear, masking resonance is not the same thing as creating a subtle effect. Essentially, you’re (temporarily) erasing your character’s magical fingerprints. So anyone analyzing their effects with Awareness or Prime magic will not be able to identify the nature of the caster, but they will still see the result of their actions. Of course, it is entirely possible to both mask resonance and create a subtle effect (by spending additional successes on hiding the effect itself,) but the latter is a separate issue (and does not require Mind magic.)

When a character has successfully masked their resonance, this effect will apply both to their person and to any effects they choose to cast during that period.

Thresholds for Self-Healing

There is contradictory information in the M20 core book as to whether self-healing Effects have a minimum threshold of 2 or not. The charts say that it does, but the book's text says that it only requires 1 success. Given that healing other patterns does NOT require that additional success (this is the case even on the casting charts,) and that our casting method here does not generally require extra thresholds for these kinds of Effects, the official ruling here is that self-healing works the same way as healing other patterns: all successes not required to target will heal damage as usual (and one does not need to target oneself.)

Offensive Mind Magick

In M20, the difficulties for casting offensive Mind Magick have changed. Any Effects used to read or influence a target's mental state are rolled at a difficulty equal to the target's WP, except when dealing with Night-Folk and Mages who possess the Mind Sphere - then it's WP+3. Drastic acts of mind control (suicide, etc.) are always WP+3 no matter the target. However, these rules do not apply when casting an Effect against multiple targets.

On this site, we've altered this ruling. Here, these Effects will always be rolled at a base difficulty of the target's WP - regardless of whether they're a Sleeper or a Werewolf or anything else - except in those cases of drastic acts of mind control (then they're WP+3.) Furthermore, the rule still applies when targeting multiple opponents. Just take the highest WP rating of the targets and use that as the base difficulty.

Also, to clarify: this only applies to invasive Mind magick. Mind 1 Effects, including those used to detect auras, are not affected.

Wards: Correspondence vs. Data

In the book, it states that Correspondence can be used to cast Wards to bar certain patterns from entering an area at rank 4. In the Data description, however, it states this can be done at rank 3. On our site, both Correspondence and Data acquire this capability at rank 4.

Countermagick

All of the optional applications for countermagick are allowed on this site, including Protective or Offensive countermagick, Anti-Magick, and Unweaving.

Reality Zones

The rules for using Reality Zones to determine the difficulty and plausibility of an Effect are allowed and in use here.

Optional Rules

Minimum Abilities: This rule is not being employed on this site.

The Data Sphere: Yes, characters who use Data instead of Correspondence will get -1 difficulty when using that sphere in the Digital Web.

Wild Talent: Yes, we do allow for the possibility of rare, dramatically appropriate uses of Wild Talent. However, this must be approved either by the ST of the scene or by the Admin (if no ST is involved.)

Dividing Successes: This is the standard casting method employed on this site.

Automatic Successes: Yes, this is allowed.

The Domino Effect: This rule is optional. Individual STs (or players) can choose to use it if they wish.

Rite, Ceremony and Great Work: This rule is not being used on this site. However, players and STs are encouraged to use it as a rough guide to help determine how long an extended ritual should take to cast - with some allowance for wiggle room.

Paradox in Mage Revised: No, we do not use the revised Paradox rules here.

Resonance and Synergy: We use the Resonance option here. We do not use Synergy.

Significant Instruments: This option is allowed, when appropriate.

Management and Human Resources: This is allowed for appropriate characters.


XP Modifiers

Libraries

  • To receive an XP bonus from a library when purchasing a new sphere level, roll the library rating at difficulty 7. The successes you gain equal the amount of XP that you can subtract from the cost of the sphere.
  • If you are using multiple libraries, roll the rating of the highest-level library + 1 for each additional library being used.
  • If you are using a library that's tailored specifically to an incompatible paradigm, the difficulty increases based on the degree of incompatibility. Using a library from any Tradition other than the character's own will bring the difficulty of the roll to 8. Using a library from a particularly different or opposing paradigm (such as a Verbena who tries to use an Etherite library) will bring it to 9 or even 10. Apprentices without established paradigms are exempt from this penalty.
  • If a Library roll botches, the character loses a point of WP.

Mentors

  • To receive an XP bonus from a mentor (official or temporary) when purchasing a new sphere level, roll the highest level of that sphere that the mentor possesses, at difficulty 7. The successes you gain equal the amount of XP that you can subtract from the cost of the sphere.
  • Unlike libraries, you cannot roll for multiple mentors at the same time. Attempting to learn from many different people at once can be confusing, as they will each have their own paradigm and teaching method. Choose the one that had the greatest impact (whether or not they had the highest sphere rating.)
  • Attempting to learn from a mentor whose paradigm is incompatible with your own will raise the difficulty of the roll. Learning from someone of a different Tradition raises the difficulty of the roll to 8. If the mentor's paradigm is particularly incompatible, the difficulty is raised to 9 or even 10. Apprentices without established paradigms are exempt from this penalty.
  • If a Mentor roll botches, the student loses a point of WP.

Combining Mentors and Libraries

  • In order to use both a mentor and libraries to augment the XP cost of learning a sphere, you select the highest rated value in the equation to act as the base to roll from. 
  • Each additional resource (either a mentor or library) acts as a +1 to the total number of dice rolled
  • Attempting to learn from a mentor or library whose paradigm is incompatible with your own will raise the difficulty of the roll. Learning from a source of a different Tradition raises the difficulty of the roll to 8. If the source material is particularly incompatible, the difficulty is raised to 9 or even 10. 
  • If this roll is botched, the student loses a point of WP. 

EXAMPLE: Evan is learning Prime from Annie. Annie knows Prime 3, but is from a different tradition than Evan. Their paradigms are only partially compatible. Evan is also using the her own library (2 points) and Sasha's library (2 points). 

  • Evan's player would roll  3 dice (for Annie as a mentor) + 2 dice (for the two additional sources of information). Evan's player would roll a total of 5 dice on this roll. 
  • Since Annie's paradigm isn't completely compatible with Evan's, the roll is diff 8 instead of diff 7. 

 

WP can be spent on both of these rolls. If a character made use of both a Library and a Mentor, they can make both rolls and add the results together. If libraries of different difficulty levels are used, the roll is made using the highest difficulty (so it may not be in your best interest to do that.)

Please Note: All of these rolls must be witnessed and included in XP requests.


Wonders

If you wish to create a Wonder, talk to the Admin. The process will be different depending on what type of Wonder you wish to make (Artifacts vs. Fetishes, for instance.) Charms and Gadgets are the easiest type of Wonders to create, and are by far the most common. These are single-use effects that have been temporarily stored in an enchanted item. Charms are not mentioned in the M20 core book, so we still use the rules laid out in Forged by Dragon's Fire.

Crafting Charms and Gadgets

1) The materials used in charm creation will vary depending on the creator’s paradigm, as will the ritual process. A Verbena couldn’t make a charm out of a light bulb, but hemlock or mistletoe would work nicely. Likewise, a Virtual Adept would have no use for enchanted candles. Software and disposable devices are more their thing. The item needs to fit both the effect and the creator’s paradigm, or it won’t work. Higher quality items will always have better results (home-grown herbs vs. store bought.) Lower quality items may still work, but could potentially garner flaws.

2) Charms are created using Prime magic and require Quintessence. The level of skill required to create them depends on the type of Quintessence being used.

  • Using inert (nonliving) Tass with resonance appropriate to the effect requires Prime 2.
  • Using living Tass, Tass without an appropriate resonance, or any other source of Quintessence (including personal Quintessence) requires Prime 3.

3) All charms are assigned a point value prior to creation. That value is equal to half (rounded up) of the highest Sphere used in the effect, plus one per extra sphere involved.

4) Multiple charms may be created at once. A mage can craft a number of charms equal to twice their Arete in a single batch. This does not require any additional successes or Quintessence.

5) The mage makes extended Arete rolls once per hour during the crafting ritual. The number of successes required is equal to twice the point value of the charm. The mage must also spend the same number of points in Quintessence. For example, a set of charms with a point value of 3 would require 6 successes on an Arete roll, and 6 points of Quintessence.

  • Crafting charms and gadgets is a vulgar effect, regardless of whether the effect being bound to them is vulgar or coincidental. However, paradox gained from charm creation is determined only by the crafting ritual – not the effect embedded into the charm.
  • In case it needs to be said, the mage must be able to cast the effect they wish to imbue into the charm.

6) Charms made hastily, with poor materials or without following the proper rituals may manifest flaws upon creation. Flaws can take many different forms, from shortening the shelf-life of the charm to inhibiting the effectiveness of the rote or adding some kind of unpleasant side effect. Flaws will lower the point cost of charms. Depending on the severity of the flaw(s), the point value may be reduced by 1, 2 or 3 points.

7) Charms will remain active for 3 months, after which the effects will dissipate. If the mage wishes to give the charms a longer shelf-life, additional successes can be committed to stability.

1 1 year
2 5 years
3 10 years
4 25 years
5 100 years
6 Never goes bad

Using Charms and Gadgets

The process of activating a charm will vary depending on the charm in question. An enchanted candle must be lit. An edible charm must be eaten. A salve must be applied. And so on. Activating charms requires only a reflexive action, provided the mage has the charm within easy reach. The charm’s effect(s) will usually trigger the same turn, but some charms, like enchanted candles, release their effects more slowly. In these cases, the length of time before the effect goes off will be up to ST discretion.

In order to use a charm, the person activating it must believe that the charm will work. This can be interpreted with some degree of subjectivity. A Cultist’s magic mushrooms will always work for other Cultists, but they may also work for a Verbena, a Dreamspeaker, or anyone else who can wrap their head around the idea of a magic mushroom. A Dreamspeaker traditionalist will probably not be able to use a Virtual Adept gadget, but a technoshaman might.

Charms are not limited in use to Awakened mages only (this is part of what makes them so useful.) Unawakened consors, acolytes and even ordinary Sleepers can activate them with the expenditure of a WP point. In these cases especially, the character must believe in the power of the charm for it to be effective. A Sleeper might not believe in “magic,” but they may still put faith in the powers of holy water. They also tend to be more likely to accept amazing feats when they come in the form of technological gadgets.

Charms and gadgets can sometimes mitigate Paradox if using the charm makes the effect appear coincidental. Aside from that however, use of a charm will garner paradox as normal.

House Rules

1) Since the book doesn’t bother to explain how to calculate thresholds when making and using charms, this is how we’re going to handle that here:

The standard Arete roll for charm creation assumes a total of 3 successes on the intended effect. If you wish to add more, or if the effect itself requires more, then these additional successes will need to be added to the Arete roll on creation. (Yes, this will mean that more difficult effects may be impossible for some mages to imbue into charms.) This will not affect the amount of Quintessence required to make the charm, which is still determined by the charm’s point value.

2) Charms created with self-targeting effects will only work for the original caster. So if a mage wants their charms to be usable by other people, they’ll need to craft them using the spheres necessary to target other patterns.

3) A charm’s effects will usually apply to the person who activates the charm, unless the process of activation involves it coming into contact with an alternate target – such as shooting someone with a bullet or applying a healing salve – or the effect of the charm is area-based.

4) If an effect requires quintessence, the person activating the charm must pay it themselves. Quintessence spent on charms goes towards the charm’s creation, not the intended effect. (Charms are not mana batteries.)


Merits & Flaws

For any site rulings regarding Merits & Flaws, please see the Merits & Flaws page.


Miscellaneous

Ties in Contested Rolls

While White Wolf clearly delineates that in contested rolls, "defender wins the tie," sometimes it can be difficult to determine who the defender is. In this system, the definition is based on the intent of the action. Attempting to influence, harm or take something from another person equals being the “attacker.” (This includes trying to get a read on them via Empathy and the like.) If your roll is defensive in nature (that is, if you’re trying to stop another character from doing something to you,) then you are the defender. This is true regardless of which order the dice are rolled in. Defensive actions can be taken preemptively, after all.

Optional Rules

Verbenae and the Old Roads: This option is allowed in our system. However, whether or not an individual Verbena may attempt to search for the entrance to an Old Road in a given area is up to ST discretion. Note: If anyone wishes to do this out near the Morrison Node, talk to the Admin first.

Acclimation: Yes, we do use the acclimation rules here. (This applies to characters who spend a lengthy amount of time in the Umbra.)

Umbrood Magick: This is not something we typically do here. But if an ST wishes to use this option for spirits in a given scene/SL, they may.

Social Conditioning and Reprogramming: This optional system is allowed, under applicable scenarios.

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