Awakened Inspirations

Mage: The Awakening, Open Development


Welcome back! It’s my last day at home before starting the Ohgod miles journey to Indianapolis and GenCon, but I think the poll on the last post is now comprehensively won by “Consilia,” and I thought I’d put the next post up.

Speaking of GenCon, I’ve now had the working draft of Fallen World Chronicle printed and bound, and will have it on me at the Convention. It’s missing two of the Arcana (but which two!?) and a few other sections, but it still contains Mysteries worth seeking. If you see me (I’m the pudgy English guy who’ll be hanging around the Onyx Path booth a lot) ask to see it.

This week, though, we’re taking a long look at the Inspirational Media list for Awakening.

I love media lists in game books. I always find something new recommended in them. The media list in the Awakening writers’ bible is accordingly quite long – too long to actually reproduce entirely in the book. But that’s what blog posts are for!

This, then, is where Awakening comes from:

Comics & Graphic Novels

Lots of people use film and television metaphors for roleplaying games – they “cast” their player and Storyteller characters and insert act breaks. I tend to think rpgs are a lot closer to serial comics – they have a somewhat elastic sense of continuity when they go on too long, and break down into chapters/issues that group into stories which are themselves part of larger arcs.

And the two greatest influences on Mage are comics.

Hellblazer is the original. John Constantine, nicotine-stained, trenchcoated asshole demonologist and mage, has been the character other occult detectives are measured against since he was a side-character in Swamp Thing. His jackdaw magical style fits Awakening‘s mages, but it’s his sheer inability to let a mystery go despite the ever-increasing fallout for those around him that really make him stand out. Vertigo are finally collecting the series sequentially, and the volumes released so far cover some of the best stories.

The Invisibles is the trip. Tonally, it’s closer to Ascension (unless you’re playing a particularly gonzo Chronicle), but the characters and the world they’re in is much, much closer to Awakening: the titular magician-terrorists assign “cabal” roles by symbolism, take on Shadow Names, and fight the forces of universal oppression in a world that’s a hologram between larger, Supernal realities. Its antagonists were a primary inspiration behind the Seers of the Throne; an early arc even has what Mage calls Profane Urim in it.

Other comics of potential interest include;

Promethea, an Alan Moore comic about a woman who merges with the Astral incarnation of magic. It features a Tarot- and Kabala-steeped otherworld that’s inspirational for the Astral Realms.

The Books of Magic, Neil Gaiman’s take on a modern-day mage. Ignore Tim Hunter’s close physical resemblance to another boy wizard (this came first anyway), and take a look at the initial miniseries if nothing else. Among meditations on the nature of magic, mystery, and choice, Gaimain utterly nails Atlantis in a single page.

Locke and Key, by Joe Hill (Stephen King’s son), shows a bereaved family go up against magical family secrets, a house of secrets, and what could easily be an Abyssal entity.


Mage draws on stories about obsession, conspiracy, and the occult.

Umberto Eco is good at dissecting the motivation of mystery-seekers; The Name of the Rose and Foucault’s Pendulum are both appropriate for different reasons.

The Weird History fiction of Tim Powers mixes occult research with real events and spins yarns of magic crawling under the world’s skin. The best three books for Awakening are The Anubis Gates, Declare, and Last Call.

The Illuminatus! Trilogy and the Historical Illuminatus by Robert Shea and Bob Wilson mainline the kind of twisting, societies-as-mysteries we’re after for the Orders.

The Club Dumas by Arturo Pérez-Reverte shows the main character’s descent through a Mystery Play, and if you read the book instead of watching the movie you aren’t supporting Roman Polanski.

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk depicts a particularly violent and strange Thyrsus Awakening. You shouldn’t die without any scars.

The Miriam Black trilogy (Blackbird, Mockingbird, and Cormorant) by another Chuck – former Hunter: The Vigil Developer Chuck Wendig, no less! – are about a drifter who sees the death of anyone she touches. Violent, sweary, and funny along with the horror.

Clive Barker’s The Great and Secret Show and Imajica show off different facets of Awakening’s world, with rival magicians, layers of reality and – in Great and Secret Show – something close to what Awakening means by “Atlantis”.

The best book for Awakening, though, for the sheer mood of layers on layers of strangeness, is Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, at least two layers of which could describe a Mastigos Awakening or Pandemonic Verge. Beware the Minotaur.

Oh, yes, and there’s that incredibly popular series about a Wizard Detective. The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher aren’t that close to Awakening, being a lot more pulpy, but some of them are quite good and Butcher deliberately follows the narrative beats of mystery fiction in his plotting.

Closer to Awakening’s setting are the Night Watch pentology by Sergei Lukyanenko—they’re very Russian, and the first two were adapted into movies you can probably find cheap on an on-demand service somewhere, but they deal with a world with a many-layered magical world underneath, only the shallows of which are accessible. If you need a hand grokking the Fallen / Supernal Worlds, give it a go.

Last, John Dies At The End and its sequel This Book Is Full Of Spiders by David Wong are horror-comedic looks at why you shouldn’t imbue an unprepared Sleeper with Mage Sight.


The film adaptations of Fight Club, Night Watch, John Dies At The End, the Name of the Rose, and Club Dumas (The Ninth Gate) are all worth seeing.

Constantine is a frustrating adaptation — it ignores most of the character of the original, but is surprisingly faithful to the plot beats of the story it’s adapted from (“Dangerous Habits”, volume 5 of the current reprint drive, if you’re curious). Ignoring where it came from, it’s a perfectly good modern-occult film, and has one of the best depictions of Mage Sight committed to film.

If Fight Club’s a Thyrsus Awakening, then Donnie Darko is an Acanthus’ mystery play. Caught in a time loop punctuated by his own unjust, random death, a young man starts seeing time. The scene where people’s timelines extrude out of their bodies like silvery threads is pure Acanthus Mage Sight.

The non-superhero works of Christopher Nolan are all meditations on obsession in puzzlebox world. There’s something for Awakening in all of them – a quote from Memento opens Fallen World’s Sleepers Chapter, The Prestige warns of rivalry turned to hubris and murder, and Inception shows what it’s like to invade a victim’s Oneiros.

Of the two gnostic films that came out at the same time (and even shared some sets!) Dark City is more Awakening than The Matrix, if only because the hero has to stay in the prison of the real even after seeing through the Lie he’s been kept in. The Matrix has more flash and catharsis, while Dark City has more heart.


There’s a TV adaptation of Hellblazer (again called Constantine) on the way this year, which I await with interest. Let’s hope it’s better than the ill-fated adaptation of the Dresden Files.

True Detective came out of nowhere to be one of the best inspirations for Awakening on the small screen. Rust Cohle is Mastigos as fuck.

The Lost Room deals with the aftermath of reality going wrong in a lonely desert motel room, transforming everything in it into a powerful artifact now sought after by occult conspirators.

Video Games

The Assassins Creed games feature rival conspiracies (one dedicated to freedom, the other control) astrally-projecting back into history to seek clues to the vanished magical civilization that created humanity and left potent artifacts behind. You can get all kinds of inspiration for Awakening from it, especially if you’re using a historical setting.

The Stanley Parable is short, but is The Lie in a three-hour experience. It’s also very, very funny.


If you’re interested in where Atlantis came from in a modern occult setting, try Joscelyn Godwin’s Atlantis and the Cycles of Time, a survey of the 19th and 20th century occultist movements Awakening’s cosmology and backstory are based on.

If you want to look at what people really thought about magic in European history, try Stuart Clark’s Thinking With Demons: The Idea of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe.

If you’re interested in the Supernal World, get your hands on an encyclopedia of symbolism. The original Awakening team recommended The Magician’s Companion: A Practical and Encyclopedic Guide to Magical & Religious Symbolism by Bill Whitcomb.

Ken Hite’s Suppressed Transmissions are also an excellent guide to the weird. Ken wrote on Secrets of the Ruined Temple, early in Awakening‘s line, and this series (originally written for Steve Jackson Games’ magazine) is worth the difficulty you’ll face in finding it.


By popular demand, I have accepted the challenge from Stew “DJ” Wilson. I always blank when trying to think of the perfect track to go with an individual blog post, so thus far we haven’t had any, but this post is about all media, so I can put an entire playlist up.

And here it is

(Apologies for the last song, by the way. A certain someone bet me I wouldn’t include it. Pay up, Wilson.)

Next week!

I’ll be back home, I’ll be jetlagged, but I’ll be happy to spill the beans on one of our two most-requested topics. Paradox or Orders?

(Edited to add Fight Club, Wendig and Barker’s books)

  109 comments for “Awakened Inspirations

  1. Stew
    August 11, 2014 at 11:48 am

    So very, very worth it.

  2. Will
    August 11, 2014 at 11:52 am


    • Will
      August 11, 2014 at 11:56 am

      Oh, and Orders. You should also listen to “Embers” by Cunninlynguists – it’s the perfect musical experience of an Awakening

      • Dave Brookshaw
        August 11, 2014 at 12:44 pm

        Into the mix it goes!

        • Will
          August 11, 2014 at 5:29 pm


          • Leetsepeak
            August 11, 2014 at 8:20 pm

            You’re the best, dude. This song is inspiring my next character.

        • Kyle Sinclair
          August 15, 2014 at 10:10 pm

          This song, “Long Live the Fallen World” sounds like what I imagine Lucifer and the Preservers theme song should be. It has a dark, anti-hubris theme that ground conflicts in the Awakened setting relevant to the abyss really well. It’s not scary enough to be ‘for’ the abyss, but it captures the scars stumbling upon the void in your astral path would leave behind damn well.

  3. Maxime
    August 11, 2014 at 11:54 am

    Dark City. Just seeing it made me happy 😀 So, so looking forward to this product now. Count me in as an early buyer.

  4. Yossarian
    August 11, 2014 at 11:54 am

    I *adore* the Lost Room. It’s a brilliant, underrated little masterpiece. What a world they built in just three episodes (well, six sort of). They were going to do a comic book sequel, but it’s been in limbo for years.

    Anyone who hasn’t seen it, and who has any interest in Awakening (or the World of Darkness in general) should track it down. My roommate has been making notes for a core WoD game using that setting for about two years. Maybe he should wait till FWC comes out…

    • Asaram
      August 11, 2014 at 3:20 pm

      I have to contradict you there, it’s not a must-watch for mage folks, indeed I wouldn’t even put on a recommended list for mage folks.
      It belongs on the “must watch” list for any living, breathing and semi-intelligent (or better) creature on the planet.

      As for my vote, go with Paradox dude, been too long 🙂

      • Yossarian
        August 11, 2014 at 4:14 pm

        I was so ready to be all “YOUR SUBJECTIVE OPINION IS WRONG AND MINE IS RIGHT”, and then I got to the end of your post and was like, “YOU ARE RIGHT ABOUT EVERYTHING ALWAYS.”

    • WuseMajor
      September 3, 2014 at 10:29 pm

      Agreed that The Lost Room is a must for anyone who plays in the WoD.

  5. Dave Brookshaw
    August 11, 2014 at 11:56 am

    Aaaand I somehow forgot Fight Club, good as either book or film as a particularly strange Thyrsus Awakening.

    Does anyone have any favorites of their own?

    • Tiresias
      August 11, 2014 at 12:14 pm

      I’d recommend The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss. The protagonist can be exceedingly unlikable at times, but he suffers greatly because of his hubris and he’s pursuing a particularly lethal mystery, which makes him an ideal inspiration for Mage.

    • Chris Shaffer
      August 11, 2014 at 12:21 pm

      Honestly, damn near anything I’d think to add to such a list is already there. (IMHO, if you can read “Locke and Key” and not come away inspired and raring to run a WoD story regardless of game line, you’re doing something wrong)

      I can think of maybe one other possible source of inspiration worth checking out (albeit an obscure one but I’m trying to contribute): “The Zodiac Paradox.” It’s a novel based on the ‘Fringe’ TV series, and takes place in 1971 (predating about 99% of the show’s backstory). The show in general is mostly about a lot of weird science, but the plot of the novel is about a couple of people who experiment with substances to expand their consciousness beyond the bounds of reality. In the process they open a portal to someplace else and accidentally summon a superhuman killer who likes to communicate in weird codes and symbols. And once they realize they didn’t just hallucinate what they saw, they try to recreate the experiment and figure out how to send it back.

      The story could easily be about a couple of newly-Awakened mages experimenting with their poorly-understood magic and accidentally unleashing some human-shaped Abyssal horror on the world, is what I’m getting at.

      • Chris Shaffer
        August 11, 2014 at 12:24 pm

        Oh, also, voting for Paradox.

    • Octavo
      August 11, 2014 at 12:30 pm

      Stargate SG-1 Seasons 9 and 10, when they fight the Exarchs and the Seers…er…Ori and Priors. There’s even Atlantis and Oracles.

      I’ve never grokked any of the Orders except for the Seers and the Mysterium, so I vote Orders.

      • Manu
        August 13, 2014 at 11:08 am

        I second Stargate SG-1 as inspiration. Even the earlier seasons without the Ori and Priors, the Ancients are really very much like the Oracles–mysterious and unwilling to get involved, waiting for others to ascend.

  6. Dave Brookshaw
    August 11, 2014 at 11:58 am

    Also The Great and Secret Show and Imajica By Clive Barker.

  7. Yossarian
    August 11, 2014 at 11:58 am

    Oh yeah, and Orders!!!

  8. Alex
    August 11, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    I think I may need to give True Detective another shot…

    Throwing in for Orders.

  9. August 11, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    The movies that most inspire my Mage games are Cronenberg’s catalogue of films about disturbing real worlds hidden behind veils of subterfuge. Naked Lunch, eXistenZ and Cosmopolis stand out. The latter one especially, given how the protagonist’s theory and mood about.the world he sees seems to have a real effect on the world around him.

    • Aspel
      August 11, 2014 at 3:55 pm

      I swear some parts of Intruders feel like they were inspired by Videodrome.

      It just FEELS Abyssal, and along the same lines as the meat church.

  10. Tiresias
    August 11, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    The first thing I got when I clicked on the playlist was the Eye of the Squirter commercial for MiO Sport. I was very confused.

    And I’m voting for Paradox.

    • Dave Brookshaw
      August 11, 2014 at 12:09 pm

      Must be localized. I get Jamie goddamn Oliver.

  11. August 11, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    Aaaand people wonder why I love this game: I absolutely LOVE all the sources of inspiration.

    I vote ORDERS!!

  12. Leliel
    August 11, 2014 at 12:17 pm


  13. Seidmadr
    August 11, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Nice! Not really that deep, but still nice to see this list, lots of fun stuff to dig into. Also, that with the Constantine movie. Did you mean the vision trip to hell as the depiction of Mage Sight?

    Oh, and I vote Paradox! Feels more crucial to the game than the Orders.

    • Dave Brookshaw
      August 11, 2014 at 12:47 pm

      I did – the Hell Scene isn’t particularly true to any of our five Supernal Realms, but the idea of it, and the way it clearly overlays “real” LA – is perfect.

  14. B
    August 11, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    “Vertigo are *finally* collecting the series sequentially”

    You can say that again!

    “Ignore Tim Hunter’s close physical resemblance to another boy wizard (this came first anyway),”

    And Tim has a different personality from Harry Potter. He’s sassier, for one thing.

    Thanks for the shout out to The Lost Room. I always felt that should have gone to series. Props for using the Battlestar Galactica version of All Along the Watchtower.

    • Asaram
      August 11, 2014 at 3:25 pm

      “Thanks for the shout out to The Lost Room. I always felt that should have gone to series.”

      Seconded. If it was available I’d watch it religiously, and buy the box when it came out 🙂

      Does make me think though; maybe I should write up a setting-kit for a Lost Room-esque mage campaign (once FWC comes out anyways). Would be a pretty fantastic plot to unfurl after all.

      • Aspel
        August 11, 2014 at 3:51 pm

        I *think* The Lost Room actually went on to become Warehouse 13. I do know it was a backdoor pilot, but I could be mistaken about the connection. Either way, it’s great.

        I wonder what Dave thinks of The Holders series, or SCP. The Lost Room gives me vibes of both.

  15. Chazz Kellenr
    August 11, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    I’ll vote Orders.

  16. christian a
    August 11, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Inspiration: the movies Pi, Agora (especially for historical games), Angel Heart (perfect story of an Awakening), Chronicle (a nice little morality tale about hubris).

    Books: anything spy and cold war related, really.

    my vote: orders, please.

  17. August 11, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    Surprised (happily) to see Ken Hite on there. Loved Books of Magic. Have to check out some of the others.

    A vote for Paradox.

  18. arthexis
    August 11, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Paradox! Last week I tried to improvise a session using info from the stopgap rules and stuff from these blog posts. Other than the full spell and factors rules, I think Paradox is one of the crucial things to continue testing the new system. Thanks!

  19. Scutarii
    August 11, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    Orders, all the way.

    Also, theme song for the Silver Ladder (focus on the whole magic is humanities birthright angle, it’s my favourite part of the Ladder)

    • Dave Brookshaw
      August 11, 2014 at 12:40 pm

      Eee! That takes me back to watching Transformers: The Movie as a kid.

  20. Satchel
    August 11, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Casting my vote for Paradox.

  21. Wildeyes
    August 11, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Gotta throw in my vote for paradox. I’m really curious about its mechanics given the few snippets I’ve seen on the forums.

  22. Viridian
    August 11, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    I cast my vote for Paradox – it’s been long overdue.

  23. BigDamnHero
    August 11, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Urrrrrgh…Paradox. I love all of these inspirational media, and I’m glad that John Dies at the End and The Stanley Parable in particular are involved.

  24. Arcane
    August 11, 2014 at 1:22 pm


  25. Tom
    August 11, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    Lets see some
    P A R A D O X

  26. Tori
    August 11, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    Paradox please 🙂

  27. Victor
    August 11, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    I chuckled way too much looking at this playlist.
    Not a lot of surprises in the inspirations, and I like all of them, especially Hellblazer.

    I vote for Paradox !

  28. Constantine
    August 11, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    Paradox please!!!

  29. Patrick Regan
    August 11, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Oh man, I love these lists. It’s like a bunch of people who’s minds I respect are delivering a personal reading list for a class on magic.

    Also: Orders.

  30. Montuban
    August 11, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Paradox please!

  31. AwakenedInterest
    August 11, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    Thank you very much for getting inspired to post this (music “Mystery Play” list). However coincidental it is, has been a great Birthday present for me. Hey, maybe there’s some Synchronicity at work. 😉

  32. Aspel
    August 11, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    Aww yeah, starting the mix with the BSG version of All Along the Watchtower. Love the sound of it.

  33. shkspr1048
    August 11, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    Orders, if you please; and also, will the Nameless Orders get some love in the post?

  34. Ephsy
    August 11, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    Paradox, please.

  35. Lone Gunman
    August 11, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    Nice Article! I always ölove those Inspirational Lists. Also checked the Music Videos. I think in the Kanye West Vid you’ll find enough inspiration, since it’s full of occult images. 😉

    • Lone Gunman
      August 12, 2014 at 8:20 am

      Damn it, I forgot to Vote. I go for Paradox!

  36. atamajakki
    August 11, 2014 at 4:39 pm


    And I love this sort of thing; thanks for taking the time to put it together.

  37. Checkers
    August 11, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    Vote for Paradox

  38. JohnD
    August 11, 2014 at 5:07 pm


    And thank you for including “John Dies at the End” – definitely one of the undersung works of our time, and very Mage appropriate!

    • Dave Brookshaw
      August 11, 2014 at 5:10 pm

      I know, right? Full of Mage Sight.

  39. Falco1029
    August 11, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    I vote for Paradox.

  40. Dataweaver
    August 11, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    This one’s a tough call; but I think I’ll go with Orders this time.

  41. Nate
    August 11, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    This is just a list of awesome things that I love oh and paradox please.

  42. Mr_Innes
    August 11, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    No “The Lego Movie”?

  43. Exploding Frogs
    August 11, 2014 at 7:05 pm


  44. Beard
    August 11, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    Gonna go for Orders, I really wanna see what you guys are cooking for the rest of the Pentacle.

    Man the Pentacle’s still a thing right? I’ve been hearing a lot of “The Diamond” and “The Free Council” but they have been hanging out for a hundred years.

  45. Kostas
    August 11, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    Donnie Darko is a movie that presents many Mage aspects in my oppinion!And the soundtrack is an awesome example of this “weirdness”that Mage has.Also David Lynch’s work depicts that aspect in more abstract ways.

    Ps:I’ll vote for Orders…phhhhewww …tough choice!

    • Dave Brookshaw
      August 12, 2014 at 5:44 am

      Gah. Another one I forgot! Yeah – the scene in Donnie Darko when he sees people’s timelines extruding out from them as silvery threads? That’s what Acanthus mean by “the thorns”.

    • Snare
      August 22, 2014 at 2:11 pm

      David Lynch is definitely a mage director trying to spur on Awakenings. Mullholland Drive is definitely one of my favorite movies if not my favorite. It’s just so rich with symbolism and metaphors.

  46. Brian Goubeaux
    August 11, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    When you finally do God-Machine Rules for Changeling, I would like to suggest the anthologies “Everybody Comes To The Nightside” and “Raising Hell In The Nightside” by Simon R. Green. My brother swears that the Nightside, which resides under London, would make an excellent Goblin Market.

    Also, my brother and I vote for Orders.

  47. Sir Phobos
    August 11, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    I’ll vote Orders!

    I’ll have to add those books in my to-read list.

  48. NateD
    August 11, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    Wow, so much goodness here! (And I am really quite chuffed at how many of these books sit on my bookshelf, too.)

  49. NateD
    August 11, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    (Me again)

    And just going through the soundtrack — NICE. If I could offer another recommendation, it’d be ALL OF NIN’s “Year Zero”. Especially:

    Vessel –
    The Great Destroyer –
    Capital G –

    (OK, that’s three recommendations.)

    (Also: Orders, I think! But I REALLY want Paradox, too!)

  50. RisTigger
    August 11, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    I don’t see any Terry Pratchet on here. The wizards of discworld are a humorous take on mages. I haven’t read all the books yet, but I think Equal Rites would be a good starting point. It gives a good overview of magic on the disc, both the fantastical and the horrifying. It also has a good leading character who has to deal with being a wizard and all the responsibilities that come with it and how others react to her. It’s a good book either way.

    I vote for paradox.

  51. baboonking
    August 11, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    I always loved the nonfiction part of these lists in the WoD books. Not that the fiction suggestions aren’t great as well but they mostly include stuff that I already come across or at least heard of through the great grapevine of geekdom. The nonfiction part always has a bunch of stuff I wouldn’t have come across elsewhere. This list continues that tradition. So thank you!

    And I’d really like to hear about Orders now please.

  52. baboonking
    August 11, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    Oh, and recently I went on a roadtrip where the driver insisted on playing Bastille songs on endless repeat. Now I have nothing against them but it got a bit tiresome after the umpteenth time of hearing the same songs.

    It did however make me actually listen to the lyrics to Pompeii. And maybe this is delirium from having heard it over and over and over and over again over a short span of time but I swear that if you switch out Pompeii for Atlantis it gives a pretty decent description of the ancient city’s fall:

    A utopia corrupted by Mages’ hubris and decadence. And the modern mages has to deal with the fall out but when they “close their eyes” can still feel that great legacy and power almost within reach.

    Or maybe I’m just insane from having the “eh-eh-oh-eh-oh” chant permanently seared into my brain at the end of that effing roadtrip.

  53. Uxas
    August 11, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    Orders, please.

  54. DreamingGod
    August 12, 2014 at 12:19 am

    If I can suggest a song that always made ME think of Awakening, it’s this song;

  55. Zooroos
    August 12, 2014 at 12:22 am

    P A R A D O X ! Please!

  56. theye
    August 12, 2014 at 12:59 am


  57. tau neutrino
    August 12, 2014 at 4:54 am

    What about other Vertigo titles that have previously been cited as Mage inspirations, like Sandman, Death, and Kid Eternity? (I’ve been thinking of a Kid Eternity like character who summons astral entities in the shape of famous people from history.)

    • tau neutrino
      August 12, 2014 at 7:46 am


  58. rikalous
    August 12, 2014 at 5:33 am

    Orders. Gotta grok the splats to grok the game.

  59. hoodedclaw
    August 12, 2014 at 7:26 am


  60. Thorbes
    August 12, 2014 at 7:33 am

    Gonna go with Paradox this time.

    Man, now I have a lot of movies and books on my “to do” list… and I looove it!

  61. MrParaduo
    August 12, 2014 at 10:42 am

    The Never Ending Story’s theme song works wonders for Acanthus. Nyeh nyeh nyeh.

    I’ll go with Orders again.

  62. reseru
    August 12, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Oh, wow. I forgot about Promethea. That was a good read, indeed.

    Let’s continue the tradition of never finding out how Paradox works: I’ll vote for Orders

  63. Axelgear
    August 12, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    Paradox! Paradox! Pleeeeease, Paradox!

  64. Elesho
    August 12, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    I’m surprised that i didn’t see lord of illusions on this list. still lots of cool stuf i cant wait to check out!

  65. Deranged Platypus
    August 12, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    Nice stuff. I’ll have to read some of these at some point.

    Yet another tough choice, but I’ll have to go with Orders.

  66. Agonium
    August 13, 2014 at 12:20 am

    I vote Orders. Man, I’m so torn, I really want Paradox too, and that’s the first time I’ve ever said that.

    Also, if you’re talking suggestions for music, Anything by ?aimon is probably the closest I’ve ever heard to musically describe the Scelesti. I think Flatliner would be the best. Link:

  67. wyrdhamster
    August 13, 2014 at 2:32 am

    Geez, it looks as I’m big Awakening Nerd – I watched or read at least half of this list on my on. I even told my all Mage-fan friends years before that BSG All Along Watchtower should be games main theme! 🙂

    And as this fact is one huge paradox, I vote for unveiling secrets of proper Paradox! 😉

  68. Krisastic
    August 13, 2014 at 3:08 am

    Orders! Oh, goodness, please Orders 😀

    Great list, by the way!

  69. Nicias
    August 13, 2014 at 3:12 am

    Orders, please.

    They’re not as close a match in terms of aesthetic or the moving parts, but I like a lot of Neal Stephenson books for mage. Snow Crash, Diamond Age (especially the illustrated primer), and Anathem. You could stare at Cryptonomicon sideways and turn it into a more mystical treasure hunt.

  70. Freemind
    August 13, 2014 at 8:30 am

    Paradox! After all the hints in the Yantras blog, I have really wanted to see what was behind those redactions.

    Also, Dresden Files does present a race of beings outside our reality that can only be drawn in by mortal magic, who actively are attempting to erode our universe for the purpose of replacing it with their twisted image. Sounds somewhat Abyssal to me 🙂

  71. Manu
    August 13, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Orders. Paradox is important, but I want to know what characters will be like based on their choices, now that I know what they’ll be like based on their fate.

  72. mrmdubois
    August 13, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    While it’s set in the Victorian Era I think the book, “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.” Is a good source of inspiration for Mage.

    It can be read as so many different things, like a morality tale about the price of hubris, or the cost of chasing after a mystery. Specifically in Mage it could be read as an Awakening, an Ascension, the period just before the erection of the Watchtowers, an Imperial Rite. It veers heavily into Acanthus in my opinion but you can catch glimpses of the other paths.

    I vote Paradox.

  73. Eolirin
    August 13, 2014 at 5:30 pm


  74. DreamingGod
    August 13, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    You know, going back and looking at my music through the lens of Mage, I have found the perfect song for an Abyssal Intrusion. Scar Symmetry – Illuminoid Dream Sequence, link:

    Time stops inside the realms of wonder, roam with thoughts in flight
    Visions flow down from another realm
    A mind hypnotized while sinking under, breaking ties that bind
    Thinking all’s been said and done

    Come, now step inside and enter our forgotten dominion
    Experience all, become one of our portals into your world

    Abruptly bliss then fell asunder, joy replaced with fright
    In encounter with a force insane
    Of worlds they spoke, devoid of life
    Where every being present soar unborn, brooding out of sight

    Gods without eyes drinking from your feeble mind, a thirst divine
    Drain mankind and we will be born, replacing all human life

    Come, you stepped inside and entered our forgotten dominion
    Experience all, become on of our portals into your world

    Skies set ablaze, the sight remains of dying worlds
    Fear not the fate that follows, it has just begun

    Come, you stepped inside and entered our forgotten dominion
    Experience all, become on of our portals into your world

    Also: Paradox

  75. Farn
    August 14, 2014 at 1:44 am

    Man, now that I’m thinking of The Stanley Parable as the Lie, the Narrator is *totally* some aspect or servant of the Ruin.

    Throwing in my lot for Paradox.

  76. Jakcul
    August 14, 2014 at 4:47 am

    Orders please!

  77. Dusksage
    August 14, 2014 at 7:28 am


  78. Sirpants
    August 15, 2014 at 12:51 am

    Satoshi Kon’s works are an excellent font of inspiration for Mastigos shenanigans, and his partner in crime, Susumu Hirasawa’s music forms the core of my personal soundtrack for the World of Darkness.

    Also, Paradox. I doubt the Orders will change much except that the Free Council’s negative qualities will be given the attention they didn’t get in the last go-round.

  79. MisterE
    August 16, 2014 at 5:43 am

    Orders, please.

  80. Riflespam
    August 16, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    No Kara no Kyoukai (Garden of Sinners)? Yeah, it’s anime, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a cartoon more committed to gnostic themes (especially the fifth movie, Spiral Paradox). It even has one mage whose practice of modern sorcery is straight out of M:tAw, and the protagonist Shiki herself is one awesome Moros.

    The texture of the entire thing is World of Darkness *as fuck*. Many speculate that the author of the original book series it’s based on probably did play classic WoD anyway.

  81. Michael B
    August 16, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    1) A vote for Orders, because I don’t want to see the paradox rules until I can play around with them and see how the new rules change their impact on the game.

    2) There are some great, but more specific, choices I’ve used in the past:
    The works of HP Lovecraft (Books): I can’t think of any better way to explain The Abyss to people, other than “The Nothing” from The Neverending Story.

    Eureka (TV)- Fairly Free Council heavy, but there are some great Guardians of the Veil & Seers of the Throne moments in the overarching plots. Also, some cool alternate timeline plots for the Acanthus, and lots of fun uses for Forces for the Obrimos.

    Captain America: The Winter Soldier (movie), Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (TV), Secret Avengers v2 (comics) – Seriously, S.H.I.E.L.D. IS Marvel’s Guardians of the Veil, and just like the Guardians, all that secrecy has some costs, and a lot of grey areas.

  82. Dave Brookshaw
    August 18, 2014 at 8:57 pm

    Voting is now closed! (Because I’m about to board my flight back across the Atlantic, and I may as well spend some of the time writing the next one.)

    And it was [i]very[/i] close, the closest one yet, but Paradox has finally won.

    Just as well, given that I’ve been explaining it all weekend at GenCon to anyone who came to the booth and asked.

  83. arthexis
    August 27, 2014 at 3:36 am

    I almost forgot, but I would suggest this for your playlist:

  84. WuseMajor
    September 3, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    So, The Suppressed Transmission series of articles is a must read for anyone who plays in the WoD. I agree with this.

    However, it both is and isn’t that hard to find. SJ Games has both volumes of the collected articles up in pdf form in their e-store, so they’re really easy to get. Here’s a link:

    However, the two volumes only cover a fraction of the 300 odd articles that were published over the course of that incarnation of Pyramid and I’m honestly not sure if you can legally get the uncollected ones at this time. Which is a pity. It would be nice if they could work out a way to get those posted somewhere.

  85. Andrew Thomas
    October 26, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Orders, because I want to read more about the Free Council and Techné.
    Also, Moi Dix Mois’ “Prophet” feels very Silver Ladder to me, while Versailles Philharmonic Quintet’s “Zombie” is my go to song when I think about Moroi.

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