My houserules for this campaign of Mage: The Awakening. It should be noted that some of these are based on the Unofficial Errata give by the writers and editors of the game itself.
Results: After contemplating the issue for quite a while, and talking it over with the players, we've decided to use a slightly modified setup for what can happen when the Paradox Pool results in successes.
(* = Any successes scored after the first five aren't just ignored, but are instead used to apply a second Paradox, in addition to the first one)
Paradox Mitigation: Resistant Bashing damage sustained from absorbing paradox successes takes one scene/hour to heal, not 15 minutes. This is partly to make the process less tempting, but mostly to make it easier to keep track of during active gaming.
Activation: All spells that are Prepared beforehand become Aimed when activated. The caster must make an activation roll to aim and unfurl the spell at a target, with a dice pool equal to that of the spell he's releasing.
After all, since the casting roll has already happened, it's hard to subtract the victim's Resistance attribute from the pool, and for prepared rituals the target hasn't had the chance to make an opposed roll for each interval. So instead, the caster has to take his prepared "ball" of spell-energy and "throw" it at the, who can benefit from cover and similar.
The activation roll is modified by the same factors that modify Aimed spells, but if it succeeds the spell takes effect with all the factors that were coded into its casting, regardless of the amount of successes rolled on the activation roll. If it doesn't succeed, the magic doesn't connect or unfurl properly.
Also, paradox is rolled when spell is "flung", since the ST needs to know whether or not there are witnesses which will modify the pool, and any paradox successes will also penalize the "activation" roll (since the casting-roll has already happened).
Delayed Rituals: Instant-action spells can usually be cast as Extended-action "Rituals" without problem, but in order to use the Time 2 effect "Delay Spell" on a ritual-cast version of a normally Instant spell would require +1 Arcanum dot (this is equivalent to adding Space 2 in order to cast a spell at "Sympathetic Range", and follows many of the same rules, except the spell reaches across Time, not through Space).
Attack Spells: Do also note that "Tome of the Mysteries" states that direct-damage spells, like Celestial Fire and the like, cannot in fact be ritual-prepped like this, but that if the ST wants to allow them to be it should be at +1 Arcanum level. When I run things, this stacks with the above +1 dot requirement for preparing rituals to begin with. Which means that to have a ritually cast attack spell ahead of time requires Mastery in an Arcanum, can only deal Bashing damage, and still follows the Aimed spell rules allowing for dodging and cover, and the 'unfurling' roll can still result in the super-powerful attack-ritual gets wasted by fumbling the final roll to actually hit the victim with your kill-spell.
Buying: Rotes can be bought either with Arcane or Mundane XP, or any combination thereof.
Boosted Traits: While it is indeed possible to get insane dice pools on rotes with boosting, it this does not count towards the base pool, which means it doesn't increase the maximum amount of rolls you're allowed to make. (do also note, I've long since nixed the skill-boosting spells from Free Council. In fact, a lot of the stuff in that book was….taken with a pinch of salt). This, combined withe the above rules hack, keeps things at a sane level without removing a lot of important aspects from the game, and without changing the system completely.
Grimoires: Referencing a Grimoire during the casting of an Instant-spell can be done in the same turn as chanting High Speech (so the effort takes 1 turn reading & chanting +1 turn spellcasting = 2 turn, instead of usual 3).
Also: Referencing a Grimoire which contains a Rote you already know gives a +2 bonus, not just +1, in much the same way that High Speech does.
Tactical Advantage: When using an Arcanum that gives bonus or penalty against the Arcanum the opponent uses, the modifier applied is +/-2, not just +/-11
Invoking Technique: The benefit from using this maneuver nets you 1 point of Willpower per success scored on the Gnosis roll2.
If your Invoking results in you having more WP than you had when entering the duel, then any points exceeding your starting sum vanish when the duel ends, unless you happen to win, in which case all excess points except 1 vanish (up to the max of your WP pool, of course).
"Stunting": To make duels a bit more than just boring roll-offs, even after the potential tactical choices, the actual descriptions of each assault, and of each defense, can give bonuses to the roll. This can range from +1 to +3, though usually only players get the benefit of this option (so boosting the "Sword" arcanum when they're attacker, and "Shield" arcanum when they're defender).
It can often be up to the player to ask the ST about this before rolling whenever that person feels their description should have earned it, since the storyteller is forgetful, and usually have their own stats to keep track of (similar to pointing out when player feels their character has fulfilled Virtue or Vice)
In general, simply making any sort of effort at being descriptive & imaginative, any attempt at something new, avoiding the equivalent of just going "I hit him again", should give a +1; provided it's not been done before in the same duel, of course. No repeat of an already-tried move will ever give "stunt" bonus, unless it's a dramatic twist or clever homage or using a previous move to build on, or similar.
Actually coming up with a maneuver that is thematically fitting for the situation, the conflict and/or the arcana used, or which uses very appropriate symbolism (beyond the basic level needed to use the arcanum in the duel), or which otherwise interacts with the setting, situation, location or other such factors specific to this event, is worth at least a +2.
The final +3 is usually reserved for descriptions which utterly surprise and/or impress the ST, and maybe even the other players, or which at least shocks and awes the opposing duelist(s). The first time this happens in a session may be worth +1 Arcane XP (a rule we'll have on a probationary level for the moment, to see if it takes, though it's not expected to come up too often).
See also: Duel Arcane Fighting Style
We'll be using the updated rules-errata about Soul Loss from the "Left-Handed Path" sourcebook:
Stage 1: Each week the character is without a soul they lose 1 dot of Morality/Wisdom/etc
Stage 2: Once Morality has been reduced to 1, character's WP score reduced by 1 per week instead
Stage 3: When at WP 0, character can't function (f.ex. catatonic, listless, mutter to themselves, etc)
●Attempts to Possess a soulless person receive a +2 bonus
●Once soul is regained, lost ratings return at 1 dot per day, beginning with WP score, then Morality
Soulless Mages: Same as for Sleepers, with additional rules listed below
●Lose 1 Gnosis per 24 hours3
●Considered a mage (has all powers & traits) while they've still got Gnosis dots. If soul still exists.
●At Gnosis 0 the character becomes a Sleeper, losing all powers of mage template
●Also becomes Sleeper if their soul ever becomes beyond recovery (f.ex. if permanently ruined, consumed, or destroyed)
●Once victim receives an Awakened soul (even if it's not their own) they regain full Gnosis & Arcana
●If they receive a Sleeping soul they regain +1 dot of current Gnosis, up to max=original Gnosis before soul loss. If they've become a Sleeper, even a non-awakened soul still returns them to their Awakened state, but only at Gnosis 1 (1 over current rating of 0)
Precious Gems (rubies, sapphires, emeralds) should by all rights give +2, not the +1 they're listed as in the book
Legacies and New Ruling Arcanum
If the Primary Arcanum of the legacy you've joined is already Ruling for you, the Optional Arcanum becomes Ruling instead. If there isn't an Optional, or if that is Ruling too, then the Prerequisite Arcanum, if any, becomes a new Ruling. If there is no Prerequisite, or it is already Ruling, then no further benefit is gained. If this seems unfair, contact the ST for a workable solution.
- Spell Lore: Rotes can be purchased with Arcane XP, at the same costs that mundane XP is usually spent.
- Relinquishing: Permanent WP-dots spent on Relinquishing control over spells, even Imbuings, can be re-bought with Arcane XP
- Familiar traits: Since it's absurdly expensive otherwise. Price chart (according to "grimoire of grimoires") is as follows:
Attribute: New dots x8 if incorporeal, x5 if embodied (to max rating 5)
Skill: New dots x3 (to max 5. Embodied only). Specialty: 3xp (embodied only)
Numen: 25 xp (max 4 Numina for incorporeal, max 5 for embodied)
- Proximus-Blessings: May buy any available to character with Arcane XP, and instead of calculating cost as for Merits, the cost is calculated same as for Rotes. Yet the Blessing Rating is still equal to spell lvl +1. F.ex: A 4-dot spell would be a 5-dot Blessing, and would cost 10 (5*2) XP, instead of the 30 XP it usually does. So it's as shown on the following chart:
|Cost to buy||4xp||6xp||8xp||10xp|
- Misc: Certain other benefits have also been listed as available through Arcane XP, usually Order-related 'mystic teachings' and suchlike (with "rotes" being benefit enough for the Mysterium thus far) . As far as the ST can recall, these include the "Masques" (guardians) and "Oathbound" (arrow) merits, though there may have been others
The rules for creating imbued items have been heftily re-written by yours truly, and the rules can be found HERE! The slightly less polished first draft, and the community's response to it, are found here
The rules in Tome of the Mysteries have their….issues, so I've had to rework a lot of the Alchemy as well. They are found here.
Ley Lines and Nodes
The author has commented that several of the Masque values in Guardians of the Veil are incorrect. Here are the values from the final draft:
- Lord Incarnadine: +2 Persuasion, -2 Socialize
- Holy Concubine: +2 Persuasion, -2 Empathy
- Untended Forge: +2 Persuasion, -1 Resolve
- Sighing Tower: +2 Persuasion, -1 Resolve
- Gray Cloud: +2 Persuasion, -2 Socialize
- Regent: +2 Politics, -2 Persuasion
Personal update: Lancet Master: +2 Medicine (instead of "+1 on Int, but only when doing doctor-stuff")
Third Dot: The mage can give himself damage to boost a spell's dice pool. He gets +1 per Resistant Bashing he adds to his own health track, to a max +1/Resolve. At the fourth level he can choose to suffer Lethal instead, to give the roll 9-again, while at the fifth level he can get Aggravated and 8-again. These stack with 9- or 8-agains from all other sources, upgrading to 8-agains and Rote Quality, respectively.
Fourth Dot: Power to perform physical action and cast a spell, simultaneously (as opposed to the book, where it's the 3rd-dot power).
Instead of reducing the points of Binding Strength available to the character the "Additional Cost" values are reversed: The most lenient conditions (usually +2) are now considered +0, while the more severe parameters instead add bonus points to the Binding Strength, so the next step would be +1 and the final one +2 (or +3 for Questing Oaths that are extremely likely to end in failure or death).
In this way Arrows do not have to commit to suicidal idiocy just to get any benefit from their merit-dots, but if they over-commit like this anyway they in return get slightly more dice to play with. Because they'll need that edge, in those situations.
Prerequisites: Ladder Membership, dots of "Sleepwalker retainer" at least equal to highest component merit of the Cryptopoly
Special: This merit can be shared among two or more close-knit characters, pooling their dots for greater effects. They can also share the cost when it comes to the required Retainer.
Benefit: For each dot the character can distribute 2 dots among the component merits in which his Cryptopoly specializes, which must be at least 2 different ones (never all the dots in a single merit). These are then accessible to the Théarchs, and their allies, as per the rules for alliances and cult-networks laid down in the Ladder book.
Prerequisites: If a proximus awakens the merit-dots/xp spent on the sleepwalker merit are refunded, but can only be used to get mage-related traits. Related to this: A starting mage character does not have to spend 4 of his 7 starting merit dots on buying the sleepwalker merit in order to be an awakened proximus.
Effect: The requirement that the character must belong to the same Path as the Dynasty are relaxed a bit, allowing for more leeway if it fits the character concept. Also, Blessings remain Blessings after awakening, though most can be made into rotes even without mastery in the arcanum involved.
Special: Given that the book was published long after the campaign was begun those who have established setting-wise that they are from a proximus family can buy the merit after having awakened, activating their family traits and getting access to the Blessings. This also invokes the Curse, however.
The merit gives you full capacity for the "Vulgar" type of High Speech only for languages you actually know, not any you just happen to understand due to using magic.
Free Council Flaws
Relations Flaw (Silver Ladder):
Healing damage from Feeding
Every point of damage healed by monsters that recharge their Fuel Stat directly by consuming the health of their victims requires a mage to spend additional Mana. For every point of Fuel gained by preying on the target, an additional point of Mana has to be spent to heal that victim's damage. F.ex: If a werewolf has eaten a human's flesh to reap more Essence, and gained 4 points, then if the victim survives any healing spell would require the caster to spend +4 additional Mana in order to restore the consumed flesh. The same rule applies to similar preying on mortal bodies, such as vampiric bloodsucking, etc.
Like normal mortals Mages cannot see through the Mask, nor do they perceive the Mien. They can, if the ST wants to allow it, become Ensorcelled just like any human. When looking at a Changeling with Mage Sight a Mage can scrutinize to detect their magical Nature like with any other creature, with a +1 to the roll if he's using Fate Sight. However, the scrutinization roll suffers from a -3 penalty due to the obfuscating nature of the fae. «The Hidden Life» merit imposes additional penalties if the target has it. In addition to this, the Changeling reflexively contests this with a Resolve + Wyrd roll, whether he wants to or not, and even if he is not even aware of what is happening.
As long as the mage does not score any net successes, the Mage Sight gives a false result: The Changeling detects as a normal human of whatever type he was before his abduction. If the Mage scores at least one success the Changeling is suddenly revealed to be a non-sleeper, but the exact Nature of the resonance is not revealed unless he scores the full five net successes. He still doesn't see the Seeming unless he is using Fate Sight, in which case it becomes visible to him for a turn.
When using Prime Sight on a Changeling, or any other power which similarly allows you to see the Supernatural Aura of a person, the ST secretly rolls the basic activation dice pool at -3 vs the Resolve + Wyrd of the Changeling as soon as the character tries to see the Aura. If the mage scores more successes than the Changeling he sees the true aura which reveals that the target is a non-human. If he doesn't score a single net success, the spell is fooled by the Mask and only registers a normal human aura. It's still possible to Scrutinize afterwards to attain more information.
Mages can manipulate Glamour through Fate 4 versions of the Spirit spells «Medicine Bag» and «Sacramental Chain». Glamour can be spent on Fate and Time spells, with each 2 points being worth 1 Mana.