Sophia’s Choice [Mage: The Awakening]

Mage: The Awakening, Open Development



We’ve explored a lot of the setting and the character creation options of the game, so now it’s time to make a U-Turn and dig into the Mage Template itself. First up on this tour is Wisdom.

Pride’s counter and Gnosis’ counterpart, Wisdom is both an in-world concept (older factions in the Orders call it Sophia), and a central game trait. A wise mage knows when and where to use her powers and when to show restraint. She casts spells without injuring the souls of others, and suffers fewer and lighter paradoxes. Although most mages outwardly laud the very wise, it’s much like Sleepers agreeing that very moral people are upstanding – saintly mages exist, but most are content with being only as wise as they personally are, justify their excesses as pragmatism and point to those further down the slide as the real problem. The Orders definitely don’t agree on what behaviours constitute “wise,” each having blind spots and behaviors they promote that can be counterproductive for a mage trying to practice restraint.

Integrity, not Morality

Magic is a transformative act that leaves its mark on the soul of the practitioner. If you act without regard for consequences often enough, your grip on your spells becomes looser. conversely, only enacting very precise imagos without side effects and keeping within the limits of your Arcana helps to build that control.

Second edition Awakening is distancing the Wisdom trait from morality as an automatic association – many actions that risk Wisdom are also by nature rather immoral (mind controlling someone to get your way and not repairing the damage you’ve done, for example) but mages no longer always risk losing Wisdom for committing mundane crimes – which does not, I should point out, mean that you only risk it for casting spells.

The Wisdom trait represents how much control a character has over her magic, and (as magic is channeled through the soul) the relative integrity and health of her soul. More than that, though, it represents how much the character cares about the impact of her magic on others. High-Wisdom mages cast magic subtly and carefully, minimizing the effects of witnessing the supernatural on Sleeper’s Integrity. They act with care for consequences, rather than abusing their gnosis to impose their own selfish ends. Low-Wisdom mages are direct and at times brutal with their spells, using too much power or creating indiscriminate spell effects because it’s easier and faster.

Wisdom is put at risk through acts of hubris, ignoring the consequences of one’s actions to achieve goals. Effects that damage the soul (some Death spells, or the attacks of a few supernatural monsters) can “injure” Wisdom temporarily, until their duration wears off.

Wisdom does *not* determine how “good” a character is – only how *careful* he is. You can have a high-Wisdom Seer of the Throne who practices extreme caution in using the Exarchs’ gift or a low-Wisdom firebrand with good intentions who casts before he looks. Mundane acts of hubris are less severe if they’re carefully preplanned; Mage is one of the few World of Darkness systems where premeditated murder is better than panicked killing in self defense!

Effects of Wisdom

  • While Gnosis determines how overtly supernatural a mage’s nimbus is, Wisdom determines how far it spreads – the lower the further.
  • At permanent Wisdom 0 (not through “injury”, but hubris), a character becomes one of “the Mad”, a mage with a broken soul who has lost conscious control of her magic and “leaks” Supernal energy. Being Mad is incurable except perhaps through archmastery of Death.
  • Mage characters attempting to contain a Paradox within their own pattern contest the Paradox roll by rolling Wisdom.
  • High and Low Wisdom provides dice modifiers to interacting with Goetia and Supernal Entities, but not Spirits and Ghosts.

Tiers and Acts of Hubris

Mechanically, Wisdom resembles Humanity from Requiem Second Edition more than Integrity, Cover, Harmony, or their equivalents. The full range of possible Wisdom scores is divided into Tiers, with associated suggested acts of hubris. When a player creates their character or moves to a new tier, they also define at least one custom act of hubris that would risk Wisdom for their character.

How many Tiers? Well, that’s still in flux, design-wise. The mage’s long-term nimbus spreads across their sympathetic connections according to how many tiers they’ve dropped, so the number of grouped dots will match the number of discrete levels on the sympathetic connection table, which is *itself* in flux. (Although, and this is a spoiler for when we eventually look at sympathy, it’s got fewer steps in it than in first edition.) So, at least three (high, medium, low) and maybe as many as five (with 2 dots in each tier).

Each tier has a number of dice associated with it. When your character commits an act of hubris, you roll that many dice. If your act was in service to your Virtue, add a die. If it was in the pursuit of an Obsession lose a die. Failure loses a dot and imposes a condition (persistent for dramatic failure) from a different list for mages than those used in Integrity.

Whenever you make a degeneration check for an act of hubris, take an Arcane Beat.

So what’s going on the list? Stealing souls, creating a soul stone, using magic to achieve something you could have done without it, having an innocent bystander get caught up in one of your spells, increasing your Paradox Risk by allowing a Sleeper to witness obvious magic, not attempting to contain a severe Paradox, binding beings (whether ephemeral entities or humans) forcibly to your will, allowing a Supernal being to be consumed by the Fallen World, dealing with the Abyss.
Using mundane means to commit an act of hubris makes the roll easier – it’s still prideful to force your own desires on the world, but using spells to do it is worse. Using a Legacy Attainment is never an act of hubris – the character’s gnosis and soul are altered to accept that act, so it doesn’t risk the soul’s stability.


If a mage suffers Wisdom loss through use of a spell, she can choose to wipe that spell from future acts of hubris; any future uses will not incur Wisdom loss. If she chooses to do this, to inure herself to the spell’s hubris, it forever becomes a Paradox risk. From that point forward, every use of the inured spell forces a base two die Paradox risk. Your character may inure herself to the effects of one spell per dot of Gnosis.

Next Week:

We’ll continue our second trip around the core mechanics with Attainments or Nimbus.

  105 comments for “Sophia’s Choice [Mage: The Awakening]

  1. Satchel
    November 19, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Let’s hear about Nimbus next.

  2. Felipe
    November 19, 2014 at 2:07 pm


  3. Arcane
    November 19, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    Nimbus! This I’ve been wanting to see for a while-the cup of your soul overrunning with power.

  4. Yossarian
    November 19, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    So much hubris…! I like the idea of inuring spells, especially for the quasi-parallel to vampire banes.

    I vote to attain some Attainments!

  5. KingCarnival
    November 19, 2014 at 2:18 pm


  6. Tiresias
    November 19, 2014 at 2:22 pm


  7. Octavo
    November 19, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    Looks like a great series of improvements to Wisdom. I’m interested to hear that the number of tiers is in flux. I’d be interested if this ends up being the first nWoD game that has anything other than the standard 10 ranks of a behavioral stat.

    How do you raise wisdom? I’m hoping that it’s not just by expending experiences partially since spending experiences on a stat that you can lose seems at odds with other 2E mechanics like “Sanctity of Merits.”

    I vote Nimbus! I’ve been curious about it since David Hill Jr started brainstorming it on

    • Dave Brookshaw
      November 19, 2014 at 2:47 pm

      Wisdom still has ten dots, but the Tiers split them – so if it ends up with three they’d be

      High. 10 9 8
      Medium 7 6 5 4
      Low 3 2 1

      And in a five-tier system it’d be

      10 9
      8 7
      6 5
      4 3
      2 1

      • Octavo
        November 19, 2014 at 2:52 pm

        Ohhh, that makes sense.

      • Eolirin
        November 20, 2014 at 4:12 am

        Would 4 be
        10 9 8
        7 6
        5 4
        3 2 1


        10 9
        8 7 6
        5 4 3
        2 1 ?

  8. Zooroos
    November 19, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Nimbus please!

  9. Falco1029
    November 19, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    I vote nimbus

  10. Kumiko
    November 19, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    Nimbus please.

  11. Viridian
    November 19, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    I vote Nimbus – it would be interesting to see how much did the mechanics changed, and we’ve gleaned some spoilers about Attainments from the Legacies talk.

    • Dataweaver
      November 19, 2014 at 4:51 pm

      Same reasoning. Nimbus, please.

  12. Jack Stephenson-Carr
    November 19, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    Always with the tough choices! I already choose Attainments before this post though as a source of curiosity (maybe even an Obsession?), so I vote Attainments.

  13. Grunt
    November 19, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    Nimbus. Lets see how hobbits are cowed in this edition 😛

  14. Afro Luigi
    November 19, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    Nimbus! =D

  15. Arnaut Rosseau
    November 19, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    Attainments. I kind of want to write up a bunch of new versions of Legacies.

  16. krimcl
    November 19, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    My vote is for nimbus, and maybe what Arcana you’d use to have it appear manifested all the time, even if its not technically in effect.

  17. Axelgear
    November 19, 2014 at 3:17 pm


    I admit, I would like to learn more about Legacies and all, but the Nimbus is something I’ve wanted to learn more about for a while.

  18. Zooroos
    November 19, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    I’m having trouble figuring out the part about committing acts of Hubris by mundane means. What does it mean? If I forcibly bind others to my will by taking their loved ones as hostages I have to risk wisdom loss? I think I may have misread it, but I don’t understand it.

  19. Juhn
    November 19, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    I’ve got to vote for Attainments. Those aren’t just for Legacies anymore, and I’d like to know how things like Mage Armor function.

  20. November 19, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    Got to go with Nimbus. I always forget to use it, maybe this edition will help with that.

    Also if Legacy Attainments don’t risk hubris that makes Left Handed Legacies a bit more tempting. Want to raise the dead/eat souls/use Abyssal nightmares without consequences (for Wisdom at least)? You can but only if you join the club.

  21. ESmith
    November 19, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    Attainments, please!

  22. Will
    November 19, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    “Not through injury”? Is that only a reference to soul loss

    • Dave Brookshaw
      November 19, 2014 at 3:54 pm

      Not necessarily – it’s design space for anything that injures the soul rather than rips it out entirely, from Death spells to the effect of the Hedge. They’d lower effective Wisdom until it “healed”.

      • Will
        November 19, 2014 at 4:24 pm

        That’s some pretty good design space, particularly for Death and Prime spells

  23. NateD
    November 19, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    Damn, that’s a hard one! Nimbus, I think? No, wait, Attainments! No, I– no, stick with *Attainments*.

    Also: lovin’ Wisdom! I feel like we knew nearly everything spoiled there, but it was excellent to have it all spelled out so clearly.

  24. wyrdhamster
    November 19, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    Nimbus, I choose you!

    So Seers of Throne “Preventing Awakenings” dogma isn’t makes them crazy lunatics?

    And now I go to plan on making my high Wisdom serial killer… 3:)

  25. branford
    November 19, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    Attainments, please!

  26. Alexander
    November 19, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    I think Nimbus sounds the most exciting.

    Sort-of related question: Arcane exp is mentioned again here, are there going to be a rule option that restricts mundane exp to mundane stuff (skills, stats, merits) and arcane to… magic stuff (gnosis, arcana, rotes, etc). We tried playing with that and it worked much better, as characters suddenly started developing both their magical and mundane abilities…

    It does require Arcane and normal exp income to be roughly equivalent though, which might require a bit of houseruling, otherwise it would be extremely simple to just add the rule 😛

    • Dave Brookshaw
      November 19, 2014 at 5:31 pm

      I use a similar house rule myself, but in the game to be published, they’re not restricted except for out-of-Path-limits Arcana, which you can’t spend Arcane Experiences on.

      • Alexander
        November 19, 2014 at 5:51 pm

        Are arcane and normal exp income roughly comparable?

        I liked the rule as it removed a rather lackluster choice – do you want to become better at pushups or at twisting the fabric of reality? Not really much of a choice, especially as Arcana dots don’t really increase linearly in value… the second arcana dot is much better than the first and so on.

  27. Nathan Henderson
    November 19, 2014 at 5:11 pm


    *why do I always lose these things?*

  28. Underwood
    November 19, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    “Mundane acts of hubris are less severe if they’re carefully preplanned; Mage is one of the few World of Darkness systems where premeditated murder is better than panicked killing in self defense!”

    This sounds problematic on several levels. I’ll try to write out a more thoughtful response when I have time, but essentially this is a mechanic that says sociopathic behavior is more “mage”-like and makes mages less human than, say, Vampires. One of the great things about the current Mage is the conceit that Mages are /more/ than humans, not less than, and their actions are often a trade-off in this area (more power at the cost of their soul, etc.).

    I know I’d discard this concept from any game I were to run; I’d recommend this thought is reconsidered or curbed to an extent, as it would encourage people to read this game in a way that is less complex and rich than it ought to be. Perhaps merits or certain orders lean in this direction? Ultimately, I feel Wisdom should encourage character complexity and force players to make decisions, not the opposite.

    • Eolirin
      November 19, 2014 at 11:34 pm

      It doesn’t quite say that; the reason why premeditated murder is better than emotionally driven manslaughter is because the mage is deliberate and can minimize unintentional consequence, not because they’re more sociopathic. A sociopath tends not to care about the secondary consequences of their actions, and that’s going to get them into a lot of trouble with Wisdom too.

      • Strill
        November 20, 2014 at 1:09 am

        Aaah I see. So then the focus is on self-control. A mage who’s disciplined enough to know exactly when she needs to kill more in control of themselves than a naive mage who acts out their emotions and kills someone by lashing out in fear.

        • Eolirin
          November 20, 2014 at 4:01 am

          Yes, that exactly. Harry Dresden’s been name dropped as a rough example of what a mage with Wisdom 3 could look like.

      • Phil
        November 21, 2014 at 5:33 pm

        It is the logical conclusion from the text, particularly as written. After 1SK, what consequences are minimized? People still die. The only proposed mitigating factor is preparing for the emotional impact. (Although there is evidence to suggest that such hardening is harder to achieve than one might think, given PTSD.) That means sociopaths always get a bonus because they don’t feel the emotional impact.

        Plus, this really is not an accurate measure of hubris. Unintentionally killing someone in self defense is not, by my definition, anywhere close to the same level of hubris as deliberately planning on murdering someone in cold blood.

        (Ignoring the system issues of determining an accidental death, for now we’l use the case.) The major difference is the level of intention and planning. If that’s what the authors think is thematically important, then so be it. But that is not a divide of wisdom/hubris. I also assert that it is about as user friendly as adjusting xp award due to how closely one acts according to their sheet’s Ad&D alignment.

        If lack of emotion is the desired morality then call it stoicism, not wisdom.. And we are introducing a morality scale, make no mistake.. What else would you call a hierarchy of sins that acts as a measure of a soul’s health? And if it isn’t any of those things.. Then what pray tell is it? (Other than functionally pointless mechanical detritus.)

  29. Alok
    November 19, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    I love the ideas here. But they made me even more curious about Nimbus, so I’m voting for that so hard.

  30. Theeds
    November 19, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    You only get one chance, with an opportunity like this. So, in the immortal words of Son Goku:

    *Deep Breath*


  31. Andrew Thomas
    November 19, 2014 at 6:01 pm


    Also, this new take on Wisdom definitely sounds like Soulblazer to me. Just give us some low to mid level Rotes for soul repair.

  32. montuban
    November 19, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    Attainments, please!

  33. Thorbes
    November 19, 2014 at 6:18 pm


    Wisdom is looking good. So you can be a very bad person but if you are impecable in your palnning and execution you could be High Wisdom… and vice versa be a general nice guy but sort of a mess at magic and be scratching the bottom of the barrel. Or any combination of the two, and I like that the morals of a mage character are completely in the players hands and are mostly a roleplaying consideration.

  34. Deranged Platypus
    November 19, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    Good stuff. I’ll vote for Attainments. I’d love to see how Mage Armor, Supernal Summoning, and other Arcana specific attainments work in 2nd edition.

  35. ale
    November 19, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    “Whenever you make a degeneration check for an act of hubris, take an Arcane Beat”

    so the pyromaniac mage progreses faster then uh, interesting

    also, Attainments x 100

    • Will
      November 20, 2014 at 4:23 am

      Power corrupts

      • AlexS
        November 20, 2014 at 3:56 pm

        Corruption empowers, apparently.

        • ale
          November 28, 2014 at 10:47 pm

          thats why we join the Dark Side

  36. Toroid
    November 19, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    At last! I’ve been waiting for Wisdom! 3 main questions

    Are there instances where NOT acting could be an act of hubris? Example: In part 2, scene 1 of Gloria Mundi, the text says to warn the players that standing by while Adam burns will risk Wisdom because they have the power to save him. Even after you apply the “less good more cautious” Wisdom definition, could letting a key character fry be reckless enough in itself to call for a roll?

    Just to clarify, do mages have breaking points on top of hubristic acts? You did mention that Wisdom also represents the health of the soul. So stated another way, would the “5 questions” only about magic or do mundane traumatic events and heinous crimes still take their toll?

    Page 79 of 1st edition said that Storytellers should always warn players when a chosen action would call for a Wisdom roll and let players make a different choice if they want. I recall this being a rule unique to Mage. I’m curious if it’s going to still be the case.

    Voting-wise, I want to see what’s new with the Nimbus.

  37. arthexis
    November 19, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    A difficult choice! I feel attainments will serve me better for now.

  38. Phil
    November 19, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    “Mage is one of the few World of Darkness systems where premeditated murder is better than panicked killing in self defense!”

    I have to admit that I am a little uncomfortable with this sentiment. Beyond incidentally conflating sociopaths with the wise, it penalizes people for being acted upon and/or reacting to a situation presented to them. (i.e.: Any game where an ST introduces plot and a wisdom sin occurs, the sin is graded worse than if ‘premeditated’.) What if the players (b/c really, that’s who is most effected by the trait) ‘premeditate’ a burglary and their defense for such, but someone dies in the encounter?

    While I think I understand the intent behind the sentiment, it reminds me of Predator’s Soul or whatever that Thyrsus merit was. At best, I hope it is contained to a sidebar as an optional bonus an ST can grant to a player at their discretion. Otherwise, the minor (and dubious) philosophical point comes at the expense of simplicity and the potential for heated arguments and/or wasted time. (Some of my friends tend to argue the semantics of things as a knee jerk reaction, so no – it’s not just something that would only occur if gaming with jerks; plus, social dynamics can often be more complicated than the binary of jerks/not-jerks.)

    Yes, it should certainly be easy enough to rectify for people running their own games – But the reverse situation is also true.

    It’s not the end of the world, sure – but I figured I ought to voice my thoughts now, rather than forever hold my peace. (So to speak. 🙂 )

    • Eolirin
      November 19, 2014 at 11:43 pm

      Premeditated murder doesn’t have to imply sociopathic behavior though.

      Military ops plan out murder all the time to minimize collateral damage, and that feels like it’s kind of the intent here. If people die as an unintended consequence of something a character does, that’s because they didn’t control the situation well enough. They were being unwise in their actions by not building in sufficient contingencies to make sure that didn’t happen.

      None of the new Integrity stats are about morality anymore, so the system isn’t tracking whether you’re a sociopath or not, in any line. How controlled you are about doing things is the beginning and end of Wisdom under this set up.

      • Phil
        November 20, 2014 at 11:38 am

        My point is that it ultimately includes (even rewards) sociopathic (and/or obsessive compulsive) behaviours/patterns.

        And, I don’t really see unintended consequences as being ‘unwise’. Solomon wasn’t wise because he planned ad-infinitum.

        If being in ‘control’ of things is what’s important, then wisdom should be renamed ‘Pragmatism’ or something ‘Planning’. Focusing on control-as-morality also implies that the Exarchs are basically the model all mages should aspire to.

        • Eolirin
          November 20, 2014 at 3:32 pm

          I think that’s a complete misreading of the way acts of hubris work.

          It’s still a Wisdom hit to harm people with magic or to mind control them or to not be aware of and care about the consequences of your actions. Sociopathic behavior is not going to play well to Wisdom, unless it’s very controlled ala Sherlock, and the mind control happy Seers are not some ideal for the Wise.

          Wisdom has nothing to do with morality. It has nothing to do with being a good or bad person. Or committing good or bad acts. It’s entirely about awareness of consequence and applying careful control over magic that minimizes it’s impact on the Fallen World and the people in it. That’s why premeditated murder is better than lashing out and killing someone accidentally. The Awakened soul is less concerned with death than it is with causing it without meaning to, because the Awakened soul is primarily concerned with magic and it’s application. (And that’s not to say that meaning to kill someone means nothing. It’s just doubly bad when it’s accidental, because a mage has a higher responsibility to be aware of and in control of the consequences of their actions)

          I should point out that if you’re modeling a sociopath under WoD2e Integrity that sociopathic behavior shouldn’t cause breaking points either. It’s up to the ST and the social contract of the group to tell players not to play sociopaths, not the Integrity trait or it’s game line equivalent.

          • Phil
            November 21, 2014 at 5:51 pm

            I think this is a complete misreading of what wisdom and hubris mean and represent.

            Wisdom is absolutely a morality scale. It is a hierarchy of hubristic sins and a measure of the health of a soul. What is hubris? The prideful (deliberate) enactment of one’s will.

            Additionally, it is noted above that wisdom is not modeled closely after Integrity.

            I think it is the responsibility of the game to be clear about its definitions. Currently, it is easy fodder for confusion, ill will, and maybe even abuse.

            I understand that you really like it, and I am not trying to irritate you or claim that you are a sociopath; you just have not really addressed the actual issues and examples that have been highlighted by myself and others.. Beyond saying that Neo 2D 2 uses Integrity. But this isn’t integrity. It’s wisdom.

    • Roads
      November 20, 2014 at 2:11 am

      A point was made that Wisdom has _nothing at all_ to do with being a good person, or even a praise worthy one. Oh sure, your magical serial killer who uses magic to artful, brutal, and very effectively limited effect is Wise. She is in absolute control of her magic. But that’s all she is, Master to her cruel magic, nothing more.

      I kinda dig that, but I can see the problem in unlearning… sheesh, a decade of Wisdom as Morality+?

      I _also_ kinda adore the artful, and perfectly sensible rules about Attainment and Wisdom interaction. It also adds a new horror to the Tremure and their lesser Reaper brethren. Cutting out your soul and turning it to their purpose is _perfectly_ Wise for them. Thats kinda scary, and means I can create my High Wisdom Uber Reaper, who is on the verge of creating a true synthetic soul from raw mana. I’ve wanted him for awhile.

      On a related note, is it just the Attainments that get this exception, or does joining a Legacy, and shaping your soul accordingly also effect non-Attainment spells and action in line with the Legacy? Like a Reaper playing with souls in a novel way, on a member of the Parliament of The Needle* creating a soul stone? Are these acts still Hubris?

      And I’m putting points on *Nimbus,* mostly because their cool, but kinda because I want to hear about how Shadow Names anchor its effects.

      *I kinda adore them, and seriously Dave, Soul Cage is one of the best works of fiction I’ve ever had the privilege of experiencing.

      • Dave Brookshaw
        November 20, 2014 at 5:07 am

        Only the Attainments (and only *Legacy* Attainments, by the way. Summoning a Supernal Wraith to rip your enemies’ hearts out is the use of an Attainment not a spell, but it’s still an act of hubris).

        The best example I can think of is the Echo Walkers, who have relatively innocuous Attainments but rely on a literally soul-warping Death spell that they have to cast normally in order to then [i]use[/u[ those Attainments. It would still be an act of hubris,

        Which is what Inured Spells are for.

      • Phil
        November 20, 2014 at 11:56 am

        Firstly, you’ll note the quote indicates any sort of action, not just the use of magic.

        Secondly, if Wisdom is not Morality+, then the sins shouldn’t even include specific verbs. If one judges what is wise by Subtle vs. Gross effect, then the sins should be more ‘unplanned action, emotional response, being unexpected loud when’, etc. (And, I would suggest changing the trait’s name from Wisdom to ‘Control’ or ‘Self-Control’ or ‘Planned’.)

        There’s also the problem with semantic arguments revolving around spontaneity vs. pre-planned. How far ahead does one have to plan for an action to be considered premeditated?

        Again, I find this interpretation adds limited (if any) value for moderate (and in hopefully fringe cases, extreme) expense (i.e.: Potential for irritation, breaking flow, etc.). I think it would be a lot easier to have the option highlighted as an _option_ in a sidebar. The alternative (for myself and those with whom I’ve discussed this issue) is having to potentially throw the whole thing out.

        • Phil
          November 20, 2014 at 1:50 pm

          There’s also the issue of conflating ‘subtle’ (covert) with ‘premeditated’. If I spontaneously decide to use magic to give my Burger King addicted opponent (who just ambushed me) a possibly terminal coronary… is that less wise than if I planned for three days how I am going to summon summon angels sing a hymn of my ex-boyfriend’s unrighteous betrayal (which I composed) while they rip out his still beating heart in front of our entire first period calculus lecture?

          What if I’m having a rough week (let’s assume a 60 hour week doing some sort of mental-grind, for emphasis) and my thinky-mastigos-chess-player is in a scene and, while “realistically” they would have planned everything out, I am too brain dead to remember to perform an augury, rescan everyone’s mind for hidden Manchurian candidate instructions which suddenly get activated, resulting in a surprise struggle wherein I stab one to death. Had I been, out-of-game, in a better mental state I may have been more capable of preparing a three phase plan; but because I was out of it, I now have to roll a lower sin on the wisdom scale?

          Or, what if I have a head cold/forgot my meds/just not a planner in real life?

          Alternatively, if emphasizing a particular flavoring or philosophy is the goal – then why is there only one wisdom track, instead of a track for each path? Should it be -worse- if the character has access to Time magic (or refused the chance to study Time magic)?

        • Eolirin
          November 20, 2014 at 3:42 pm

          It’s premeditated if you mean to kill the person and aren’t doing it accidentally. And you still take a wisdom hit and you still take a bigger one for being less controlled and minimalistic in your use of magic.

          Also it’s rather impossible for Wisdom to be Morality+ because Morality does not exist anymore. And Integrity is straight up wrong to use as a basis for Wisdom, as most of its breaking points are things that are inflicted on the character; witnessing torture is almost as bad as actually torturing for a default character. Mages have too much agency and too great a separation from mundane concerns for that to be thematically appropriate.

          • tau neutrino
            November 21, 2014 at 1:02 am

            I’d argue that it’s wrong to use Integrity for normal characters for those reasons. A player should have control over any character he chooses.

          • Phil
            November 21, 2014 at 9:21 am

            How do you determine ‘accidentally’ in nWoD? If one’s goal is to defeat an opponent without killing them, it seems silly to penalize a person for getting extra successes. It sure has heck changes the meaning of ‘exceptional success’. The flip side of a dramatic failure meaning they auto-kill someone certainly puts a new spin on ‘failure’, too. So now it’s incredibly

            Furthermore, if it was ‘accidental’, then it would be manslaughter vs. murder.

            Mages are the most human of all super templates. If we want to get into thematics, it seems incredibly more thematic to hew as close to mortal humans as possible. Particularly if the (very, very basic) genre foundations we’re building from are gothic horror.

            Even if you go with a totally new track and eschew gothic horror for something more modern, Wisdom != Premeditating.

            In fact, it only really works if one is going for some sort of horror where you’re implying that Wisdom can only be achieved by exacting a measure of control / premeditation espoused by the Exarchs.

            Again, while I think I can see the minor point the authors may have been going for, it is not worth the ambiguity and confusion it introduces. To the point that if ‘premeditated’ just means ‘not accidental’ (ie: Any choice that you make in a given round) then the quality is so pointless as to be moot.

            I feel like the very fact that we are having this conversation proves this point. 😛

  39. WuseMajor
    November 19, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    I read the new story by Patrick Rothfuss recently, The Slow Regard of Silent Things and.. Ok, first spoiler alert. If you’ve read Name of the Wind and/or the Wise Man’s Fear, this isn’t the third book, but it does expand upon Auri’s character a whole bunch as well as the world and there’s a bit of a twist at the end, which I am about to spoil. So, there’s your warning.



    Ok, anyway, the main character in this story is ..more than a little mad. In Mage terms, she seems to have Supernal vision on all the time and is trying to arrange everything around her so that it’s all in harmony, by physically moving things so that it all fits together. Which almost sounds like something one of the Mad might do, if they still remembered what being Wise felt like and wanted to try to fake it. Or possibly she’s just trying to climb back up the Wisdom scale. Or maybe that’s what Wisdom 10 looks like? I dunno.

    Though most of the story, you’re left with the perception of this girl as being practically in thrall to the needs of these everyday objects, keeping herself in order and in tight, not making waves, keeping out of the eye of the universe. Which felt kinda like what Mages have to do. Then, at the end, she reveals that she’s very much a Master of Matter at the very least (if not more) and it was interesting to see what made her want to engage in Hubris as opposed to her normally Wise actions.

  40. Leliel
    November 19, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    Nimbus for me!

    Let’s see the kind of magical tempest each mage is the eye of.

  41. JohnD
    November 19, 2014 at 10:43 pm


  42. Brian Goubeaux
    November 19, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    Nimbus please.

  43. Mr.Shades
    November 19, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    Wait, your Nimbus does stuff other than flavour now?

    TELL ME!!!

    • Dave Brookshaw
      November 20, 2014 at 5:17 am

      Oh yes.

      • jalrin
        November 20, 2014 at 1:57 pm

        In that case, nimbus. This is something I have wanted for years and now must know more.

    • Caelene
      November 20, 2014 at 7:59 pm

      Totally heard that in the Loki!voice, won’t lie…

      Another vote for Nimbus here!

  44. Seidmadr
    November 20, 2014 at 2:42 am

    Oh. This is a tough choice. But I’ll go with the majority and ask for Nimbus!

  45. Toroid
    November 20, 2014 at 2:46 am

    At last! I’ve been waiting for Wisdom! 3 main questions

    Are there instances where NOT acting could be an act of hubris? Example: In part 2, scene 1 of Gloria Mundi, the text says to warn the players that standing by while Adam burns will risk Wisdom because they have the power to save him. Even after you apply the “less good more cautious” Wisdom definition, could letting a key character fry be reckless enough in itself to call for a roll?

    Just to clarify, do mages have breaking points on top of hubristic acts? It was mentioned that Wisdom also represents the health of the soul. So stated another way, would the “5 questions” only about magic or do mundane traumatic events and heinous crimes still take their toll?

    Page 79 of 1st edition said that Storytellers should always warn players when a chosen action would call for a Wisdom roll and let players make a different choice if they want. I recall this being a rule unique to Mage. I’m curious if it’s going to still be the case.

    Voting-wise, I want to see what’s new with the Nimbus.

    • Dave Brookshaw
      November 20, 2014 at 5:17 am

      Mages don’t have regular Breaking Points. Their Awakened state precludes it – the stop-gap systems I provided when GMC first came out had mages still suffering from “witness supernatural horror” breaking points when the supernatural force in question was the Abyss, but that’s not in second edition proper. replaced by the note about how Wisdom can be temporarily injured. Guess what type of monster can have powers that do that…

      You do still define custom acts of hubris, though, but like Vampiric Humanity, I can’t stress enough that Wisdom lets a lot of “crimes” slide.

      Which, in a roundabout way, fits our source material. If there’s one key psychological feature of the Awakened, it’s [i]self-knowledge[/i]. Mages make bad decisions that would be breaking points for Sleepers, but they make them [i]deliberately[/i], and often in the service of the Art. The analogy one of my writers used was the way Sherlock Holmes (and his derivative characters like Greg House) are drug addicts, know that they’re drug addicts but refuse to stop because it focuses them.

    • Dave Brookshaw
      November 20, 2014 at 5:40 am

      As I say in the blog, you can commit non-magical acts of hubris.

      For example, in my own house Chronicle a Guardian player character with the Shadow Name of “Cowl” has been maintaining a cover identity as a boxing promotor to keep an eye on a young boxer who’s made the Caucus’ list of possible future Awakenings as he’s experiencing “fight time.” For various complicated plot reasons, the Guardians and Cowl in particular have found themselves acting against the interests of the local Adamantine Arrow, but they need the Arrow Councillor’s vote in an upcoming Consilum, so the Guardian Epopt has done what Guardian Epopts have been doing since Alexander’s day when the Diamond becomes strained. She’s promised that the Arrow get first sales pitch on the young man should he Awaken. So Cowl is now under pressure to get [i]on[/i] with assessing him for suitability and nudging him Awake if possible, and he’s got an Arrow (from the Awakened Gambit as it turns out) riding shotgun to look after their “investment”.

      The kid is poor, supporting his family with his prizes. He’s seen as a hero by the rest of his gym, which weighs on him because he’s humble. He’s also extremely talented and keeps winning. Cowl and the Arrow consultant decide to see what happens in a high-pressure situation, so Cowl arranges a big fight and invites more prestigous promotors along, telling the kid this could be his chance.

      He then uses Fate magic to ensure the kid’s mother will be in traffic, stopped at a certain intersection four hours before the fight. And hires a goon (Cowl knows some unsavory people) to ram her car with a garbage truck.

      He’s [i]reasonably[/i] sure she won’t die, thanks to a carefully-worded Blessing, and he’s arranged for her to have a magically fast and complication-free recovery time, but in the final analysis he had an innocent woman he’s never even spoken to put in the hospital without insurance to see how her son would react. His job as a Guardian Cultor, combined with the mage politics encouraging him to rush through things and show his Arrow colleague results, prompted him to do something that could have gone very wrong in thousands of ways.

      Magic got her to that intersection, and kept the situation as controlled as he could make it, but the crash itself was entirely non-magical. It was still an act of hubris, though, and he lost a dot of Wisdom for it.

      He did win a lot of money by betting on the fight’s outcome, though.

      • NateD
        November 20, 2014 at 6:18 pm

        Oh GOD I want to read more of that AP! D:

        • Raymer
          November 21, 2014 at 1:23 am

          Yes. Please.

      • tau neutrino
        November 24, 2014 at 2:39 am

        If Wisdom doesn’t have anything to do with how good you are, why should this be an act of hubris at all?

        • November 26, 2014 at 1:37 pm

          It was an act of hubris because Cowl wasn’t in control of the outcome. He used a mix of the Art and a hired, truck-driving thug to do a job for him, and as a result of that imprecise mix,the job could have gone wrong a thousand different ways. It would have been Wise of Cowl to be at the scene, and shape the outcome with his own Will.

  46. wildeyes
    November 20, 2014 at 2:51 am

    Attainments. I’ve heard that the arcana all give attainments at certain levels, I’d like to hear about a few of them. (Especially Mage armor).

  47. Zapp Branigan
    November 20, 2014 at 3:00 am

    Nimbus next.

  48. Beard
    November 20, 2014 at 10:01 am

    You can copy paste my usual issue with 2E’s separation of morality and integrity here. Actually I dunno if I discussed it on this blog but I’ve had this argument with my group so many times it feels old hat.

    More specifically some of the vague wording here makes me worry that its going to be a Vampire like situation were just playing the game passively dooms you to a bunch of degeneration rolls. I can get why people’d want that for vampire, but I feel like hubris should always be a choice for a mage, and not just “I am not playing a mortal.”.

    Inuring seems like one of those cool ideas that no one’s going to use; paradox has more teeth, not to mention it gets around the wisdom loss avoidance by having how you deal with the automatic paradox become the source of hubris instead. Furthermore its kind of, well, dull. I don’t get the same “Oh I’m playing a vampire!” feel I get from Banes; and its not like mythical wizards and witches didn’t suffer from banes. Where’s my agg damage from water option?

    I guess nimbus?

  49. Sir Phobos
    November 20, 2014 at 10:57 am

    I like that wisdom in 2e is detached from integrity, not as 1e wisdom which felt like an upgrade of morality. And I think that wisdom, as the measure of responsability in the use of magic, suits very well the theme of power and therefore the corruption of power. Kudos for the great work with wisdom.

    My vote goes to attainments.

  50. ArcadianAwakened
    November 20, 2014 at 11:38 am

    I love the idea of inuring. It’s a nice addition to the thing where paradox is giving you the tools to do yourself harm, which I find oddly entertaining.

    Curiously, you said that each order has different opinions on wisdom and different blind spots regarding wise behavior, could you give some examples of that?

    And I think I’m gonna vote nimbus for this one

  51. Menace
    November 20, 2014 at 11:42 am

    Not going with the crowd: I’d like to see Attainments !

  52. Kingwell
    November 20, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    I vote attainments!
    Must. Mess. With. Legacies.

  53. Tranicos G
    November 20, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    That sounds really cool.

    I vote for Attain-mints. Fresh-breath with no Paradox incurred

  54. AlexS
    November 20, 2014 at 5:44 pm


    I’m not sure I see how this version of Wisdom (where intending an action is less harmful to Wisdom than not) furthers the themes of the corrupting influence of power or the addiction to Mystery.

    Maybe it’s how it’s being presented? I suppose I can do some mental gymnastics to get how an ill-considered or unconsidered action is less wise than a considered action.

    But if the logic of using magic to harm another is harmful to the soul/psyche because it requires the soul to -focus intently on doing that harm-, premeditated murder seems to require that same kind of attention, but over a prolonged period.

    Question: If a mage goes to great lengths to plan out a crime, but in the course of a crime, some element that she didn’t and couldn’t foresee causes harm, is that a breaking point?

    • Eolirin
      November 20, 2014 at 6:44 pm

      Or, the logic of using magic to harm another being harmful to the soul is because the soul is directly party to actively changing reality to cause harm to someone, and it has nothing to do with the amount of mental focus that’s been placed on the act.

      Doing it intentionally and in a way that mitigates as much extraneous damage as possible minimizes the damage, because the act is more focused. Lashing out without considering the consequences is even worse than just causing harm, because you not only cause the harm, which is bad, but you also act with a recklessness that’s ill suited to the awesome cosmic power you control on top of it, which is even worse.

      Wisdom is a reflection of the responsible application of Will, mundane and magical, which is very in keeping with the themes of the line.

      • AlexS
        November 21, 2014 at 2:31 am

        “Wisdom is a reflection of the responsible application of Will, mundane and magical…” Except that it’s not as presented. It’s a reflection of -intentional- application of will. There’s a conflation of acting intentionally and acting responsibly.

        Though, since this is kind of an overview, we may all be getting hung up on the trees rather than the forest. We don’t know what the hierarchy of breaking points looks like yet, for example. My issues with this may be primarily rooted in the presentation and semantics/nomenclature.

        But it feels like this post is re-defining words from not only what they meant in previous editions, but also from what they mean in reality (in fairness, hardly new ground for the WoD), which becomes even stranger when it’s an in-setting concept sometimes referred to as “Sophia,” a word with a very distinct meaning in the real-world traditions that the culture of the Awakened is influenced by.

        This is a weird definition of the word hubris, for example: “Wisdom is put at risk through acts of hubris, ignoring the consequences of one’s actions to achieve goals.”

        And then there’s “Wisdom does *not* determine how “good” a character is – only how *careful* he is.”

        And I’m not sure how the latter phrase of “…mind controlling someone to get your way and not repairing the damage you’ve done…” makes the initial phrase a non-hubristic act. In my mind, this contradicts “More than that, though, it represents how much the character cares about the impact of her magic on others.” Is this long-term impact? Is torture non-hubristic (or less hubristic) so long as I erase the memory and marks of the torture afterwards?

        I get how using magic to undo harm or taking extreme care to avoid causing unintentional harm would help a mage from degenerating (by granting a bonus on the roll, for example), but I’m far less convinced that intending to perform a hubristic (in the traditional sense of that term) action makes it less hubristic. If one -knows- that they’re doing harm and chooses to do it anyway, that’s the height of hubris.

        This just doesn’t seem to me to bolster the themes of Awakening with the same effectiveness that the new Paradox rules do (and may actually undermine them).

        That said, there’s stuff I really like here: inuring is a cool trade-off system. I’m also excited to see how Nimbus infects others through sympathy and how that’s tied to Wisdom.

        • 7SF
          November 21, 2014 at 9:19 am

          I would like to echo the above, though I’m going to vote for attainments.

          In addition, I feel that this suggests certain paths will tend toward higher wisdom than others: Obrimos and Thyrsus which read less “planny” will be disadvantaged and Mastigos and Acanthus would be more advantaged. I’m not certain that this betters the game from a system-design standpoint. While I’m not arguing for “balance”, I think it is worth keeping in mind.

          Personally, I’m concerned/confused slightly by this statement: ” Mundane acts of hubris are less severe if they’re carefully preplanned; Mage is one of the few World of Darkness systems where premeditated murder is better than panicked killing in self defense!” Does this mean a bonus against degenerating or the act is less severe? Wouldn’t planning out a murder be just as stressful on a soul if not more than killing someone in self-defense? Wouldn’t figuring out a way to remove an individual without killing them be even more “Wise”?

          • 7SF
            November 21, 2014 at 4:54 pm

            Hey Dave,

            Thinking about this some more, I think my real issue (and I think it is echoed by others in different ways) comes down to the connotation, in English, of the word “Wisdom” here. What if it were to have a different name, maybe “Sophia” or something similar that would lack the baggage of Wisdom but otherwise be mechanically what is outlined above?

        • AlexS
          November 21, 2014 at 1:10 pm

          The more I think about it, the more I’d like Wisdom to be a measure of an Awakened’s ability to operate within the confines of the Lie. (Hubris, after all, is taking on the role of a god, the gods of Awakening are the Exarchs, so acting outside of the Lie (the natural order), which is something that they are tempted to do constantly, is hubristic.) The Lie punishes magi who challenge it (hence Paradox being worse for low-Wisdom magi), so mages have both a pragmatic reason for maintaining Wisdom and an idealistic reason to degenerate.

          I may end up building this myself when the game comes out.

  55. Tori
    November 20, 2014 at 6:12 pm


  56. reseru
    November 20, 2014 at 9:11 pm


    Followed by Tokyo 😉

  57. Raymer
    November 21, 2014 at 1:20 am

    While I usually abstain from the vote: Nimbus, please.

  58. tau neutrino
    November 21, 2014 at 3:37 am

    Geist’s Psyche stat is somewhat similar. I observed that the best way to avoid Psyche loss from killing was to declare that you intended to kill everyone you met.

    If you score a success on the act of hubris roll, does anything happen besides not losing a Wisdom point? Is a Condition still imposed? How about exceptional successes?

    Suppose a cabal tracks a kidnapped infant to a cult’s lair. As they burst in, they see the cult leader rushing towards the baby with a sacrificial knife. One of the mages uses the Fate Arcana to make him stub his toe and drop the knife, taking one level of bashing damage. Is that an act of hubris?

  59. Havoc
    November 21, 2014 at 9:36 am


  60. Full Time GM
    November 21, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Every new bit of information makes me like this all the more. Please tell me about Nimbus next time.

  61. tau neutrino
    November 21, 2014 at 5:22 pm


  62. MrParaduo
    November 22, 2014 at 10:48 am

    Nimbus, please. :3

  63. Nicias
    November 22, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    Attainments please.

  64. fuud
    November 23, 2014 at 2:42 pm


Comments are closed.