Terra Incognita [Mage: The Awakening]

Mage: The Awakening, Open Development

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We’ve spoken a lot about Mysteries and Obsessions so far in this blog, and how mages become attracted to, obsessed by, and sometimes killed by the many supernatural aspects of the World of Darkness. Most such things are unique – central Mysteries that individual chronicles revolve around, like the Secret Concord / Prince of 100,000 Leaves in Boston Unveiled, or the splintered timeline of Seattle. Each of our example settings in Awakening 2nd edition features a central Mystery like that, and the assumption of the game is that your chronicle setting probably will too. If there’s nothing weird going on in a location, it’s less likely to attract mages in the numbers needed for a Consilium. We call the concept High Strangeness, the term for it coined by Demon‘s Storyteller chapter.

Here Be Dragons

Aside from High Strangeness, Mage has some common (and less-common) types of supernatural “real estate” linked to the Awakened. Most settings will include at least a few of these; they’re presented and described for the Storyteller as tools in her kit. Whether it’s a Hallow owned (and represented by a Merit) by the player characters, or a Wending the cabal explore in a single story, these locations can be in the background or right at the forefront of a story.

Sanctums

Safehouses, ritual chambers, and laboratories, a Sanctum is a mage’s safe place. Order Caucuses and Consilia maintain large, communal Sanctums, often serving as libraries and ceremonial spaces. Everything from a cabal’s rented apartment to a Mystagogue Athenaeum or a Seer of the Throne transport nexus is a Sanctum. The building itself is represented in second edition mechanics by the Safe Place Merit, while the “Sanctum” Merit provides add-on ritual casting benefits.

Hallows

Prime (pun intended) magical real estate, Hallows are places where Free Mana gathers. They’re bought mechanically as a Merit (separate to Safe Place,) and in-setting mages covet them as resources, especially if they are large, intersect with a Ley Node, or produce edible Tass. Many Consilia have strict laws against theft or vandalism of Hallows, but that doesn’t stop inter-sect rivalries; Seers and Pentacle mages sometimes murder one another for a potent wellspring of Mana.

Ley Lines and Nodes

Visible to any form of Mage Sight, a ley line is an invisible current of energy running through the Fallen World. Leys naturally follow the Fallen World’s features, contoring to flow between esoteric features like Shadow Locii and Avernian Gates, but mages can move them with Weaving spells of Prime. Where leys intersect, they create Nodes – places where the Fallen World seems energized or drained. When a Node happens to be on top of a Hallow, the Mana the Hallow collects picks up a powerful resonance, so some mages engage in geomancy to carefully align positive Nodes onto their Hallows.

Irises

An Iris is a gateway from the material world to somewhere else. Some are open doors, others have certain conditions or only open at appropriate times. Mages can circumvent many opening conditions with magic. Avernian Gates lead to the Underworld, Locii are places where it’s easier to punch through the Gauntlet to the Shadow World, and rarer Irises lead to more unusual – and potentially deadly – places.

Verges

Verges are areas where the Supernal World or Abyss is especially strong, overwriting the laws of reality with the originating realm. Pandemonic Verges are nightmarish, twisting labyrinths. Aether verges are firestorms. Arcadian Verges are zones of weird or missed time. Abyssal verges are twisted spots where reality breaks down entirely. Supernal and Abyssal beings can survive in the appropriate kind of Verge indefinitely and see and be seen by anyone inside, which makes them doubly dangerous.

The rarest, largest, and most powerful Verges contain Irises leading to worlds where Fallen reality breaks down entirely rather than being twisted – these Emanation Realms (in Supernal Verges) and Annunaki (in Abyssal Verges) aren’t fully the Abyss or Supernal World, more like “Fallen World Verges” within those strata of reality.

Verges occur naturally, but Abyssal Verges can result from strong Paradoxes. Sleepers can’t destroy a true Supernal Verge through Dissonance, but their memories of time inside are subject to Quiescence.

Lastly, although we’ll only have room to mention the existence of Verges, Emanation Realms, and Annunaki in the corebook without detailed rules in the core, they’ll have a chapter devoted to them in second edition’s first supplement.

Demesnes

A Demesne is a weak, artificial Verge, created by a mage’s soul stone. Mages create them to enhance their ritual spaces and allow easy access to the Astral Realms, but they’re much smaller and more fragile than a Verge – Sleepers entering a Demesne cause Dissonance, and can destroy it.

Ruins of Before

Mages sometimes find strange ruins and temples that seem to have been built before the Fall, either by Atlantean mages or other cultures (and people, and things that were almost people, and things that were definitely not people) in the vanished world Before. Those surviving to the modern day are guarded by powerful spells, contain deadly secrets, and act as enticing Mysteries to the Awakened. Despite many attempts, ruins of Before are impossible to date – Time spells report inconsistent or nonsensical results – or even place into a typography with one another. It’s not that they hail from Atlantis, which no longer ever existed. It’s that they each seem to hail from a slightly different Atlantis, or a post-Atlantean, hyperborean time that never happened.

Temple Guardians and the Bound

Some Ruins of Before contain entities. Mages call those set by the ancients as watchdogs Temple Guardians, and those which seem to be imprisoned The Bound. Bound, in particular, are the source of much speculation among the Orders, who believe they were once Supernal entities exiled to the Fallen World by the Exarchs. Their rapacious hunger for Mana, and the commandments some Seers receive to keep them safely imprisoned, seems to bear that out.

Chantries and Wendings

Strange pocket-worlds obeying their own physical laws, a Chantry is the private universe of an archmaster, built within her soul. Mages seeking the insight and wisdom of the Imperial Practices, or just looking for a miracle, trace rumors of the Irises leading to Chantries of archmasters who might be able to help. Chantries remain even after their owner dies or Ascends beyond the Fallen World entirely, becoming Wendings. A Wending is a fragile half-real realm, sought out as shortcuts and secret routes between realms in the Fallen World by knowledgeable cabals, but they run the risk of shattering and depositing travelers into the Abyss and certain death. First described in Tome of the Mysteries, we’re bringing mention of Chantries into the core book to firmly pin archmasters’ place in the setting down – the things they make are more important than they are to most games, and a sidebar alongside this section describes them in brief.

Monsters, Cryptids, and Genius Locii

The strange places of the world aren’t sterile and empty. Life persists anywhere, often warping into unusual forms that become just as Mysterious as their habitat. Cryptids, humans with paranormal abilities, extinct animals, nearly-human races like the Rmohals, and other odd beings all exist. We won’t have room for rules, though, but we’ll bear “what lives here?” in mind when describing a Mysterious site. Sometimes a place itself becomes self-aware; a Genius Locus or living place, often confused for spiritual influence or the result of mages casting Mind spells.

Outward Travel: The Shadow, Underworld, and Lower Depths

After looking at the odd corners of the material World of Darkness, we take a run-through of the major and minor outer realms, those worlds separate to the world Sleepers know but still Fallen from the Supernal.

When Awakening was first written, the Shadow World was brand-new and the Underworld four years off. Death spells made occasional references to the Underworld without any detail, and other than renaming the various Ranks of spirits the Shadow World (never “hisil” in a Mage book) was as it is in Werewolf: The Forsaken.

We can’t do the Thyrsus justice without the Shadow, and although they’re less involved with the Underworld, the Moros deserve details on “their” realm, too. What we don’t have is a lot of room to cover the two ephemeral realms, so the corebook has to do a careful balancing act, getting the feeling of them across as Mysteries and settings without going into too much detail.

The Shadow

Werewolves experience the Shadow World as half-spirits – they feel its ebb and flow, the invisible currents of Essence and the cycles of predation and influence that make up its protean, living structure. Day and Night. Wind and Calm. Wilderness and City.

Mages don’t.

Unless they cast spells, a mage in the Shadow is treated like any human – a curiosity or a meal for a spirit. Spirit Mage Sight reveals slumbering or hidden spirits and gives a feeling for what’s going on, but ultimately mages aren’t natives. They can be ambassadors to the flesh, rulers of miniature fiefdoms, backers of spirit politics (using magic to generate Essence is a well-known trick), and many other roles, but they’re outsiders. Mages also lack the disgust werewolves have for Magath and Hosts – they’re often dangerous, but to a Thyrsus exploring the Shadow they’re no different from anything else in the Shadow.

The Spirit Arcanum in Awakening Second Edition feels very different to the powers of Uratha in Forsaken Second Edition; werewolves engage with the Shadow. They belong there. Mages treat the cycles and ecologies of Essence the way they treat the material world’s physics; a sad Fallen reflection of the Primal Wild, that they manipulate with spells.

The Underworld

Mages can enter the Great Below with Death spells to locate Avernian gates, divine the keys to those gates, force them open without the keys or even create entirely new gates. Even Moros don’t tend to linger in the land of the dead, though—it has a way of twisting the emotions of unprotected explorers, and the treasures and Mysteries of the dead are guarded by both extremely high-Rank ghosts and the Underworld’s bizarre “Cthonian” natives. Mages have a bit of a strange perspective on ghosts compared to other supernatural beings — ghosts are often poetically described as “souls”, but mages can see human souls using the right spells, and know – not believe, know – that they aren’t the same thing. What ghosts are, though, is hotly-debated by the Awakened. The “footprint” in ephemera left by a soul? The Death portion of a soul, broken off when the rest of it moves on? A related phenomenon to astral projection? They don’t know. Many mages use ghosts as tools, many try to treat them as thinking beings.

The Lower Depths

Mentioned in the Corebook and sporadically throughout the line, mages call any realm that doesn’t fit into the Fallen World part of “the Lower Depths.” The Depths are characterized by a lack of one or more Arcana – they’re as far from the Fallen World as the Fallen is from the Supernal – and an endless hunger for whatever quality they lack. Mages call many realms detailed in other World of Darkness gamelines “Lower Depths,” but the only thing Duat, wherever it is the Strix come from, and Inferno have in common is the name. It’s a classification for thousands of worlds, not a continuum. The corebook won’t mention any of these “crossover Depths;” focusing instead on Mage-internal places like Annwn, the Tutor’s Realm, and the Decay.

It’s also going to be the shortest section in the Setting Chapter, and, sadly, will be first against the wall when the wordcount needs trimming. But the intention is to talk about them a bit. More than the two sentences they got in first edition’s core, anyway.

Inward Travel: The Astral Realms

Mages can turn their gnosis in on itself, meditating to experience the myriad worlds within the human soul. The Astral Realms are not the dream-walking of Changeling (entering someone’s dreams is a simple Mind spell) or wandering the material world as a mental projection in Twilight (also a Mind spell!) but rather the realms within the soul. Mages entering the Astral encounter truths they didn’t consciously know, confront spiritual wounds, and explore the collective soul of humanity and the Fallen World itself.

In the current edition, entering the Astral required a 5-dot Hallow or Demesne, plus one Mana. We’re changing that to any Hallow or Demesne, costing six minus the Hallow’s rating Mana, one Mana for a Demesne of a different Path or free for a Demense of the correct Path.

Mages appear in the Astral as their soul’s self-image, influenced by their Shadow lives if they’re particularly devoted to a Shadow Name. Mages often change apparent age or fitness on entering the Astral, and some change gender. Mages with Shadow names deeply associated with a particular people (that they aren’t descended from in the material world) might even change race.

The Astral Realms are an afterthought in the current corebook, but after expansion in their eponymous book they’re one of the best parts of Mage’s setting, and we’re giving them a bit more room to breathe – about as much as the Shadow and Underworld combined. We’ll focus on what mages can do in the various regions, and reasons to venture Inside.

Astral Paths

Entering the Astral is an extended Meditation action, successes representing progress on the Astral Path – an imaginary journey the mage creates, picturing themselves traveling around or down a landscape of their own choosing. As they progress, the Path takes on the aspects of their Mage Sight, hence the name “Path”; many mages believe they are literally following their connection to the Supernal.

Oneiros

The first layer of the Astral is the realm of the individual soul. The Oneiros contains memories, vices, virtues, and vistas showing what the mage believes about subjects. Most mages meditate to their own Oneiros, but Mind spells can link two souls together to allow group exploration or the invasion of a victim’s soul. Mages enter the Oneiros to gain self-knowledge, literally confront their fears, consult with their Daimons (the goetia representing each soul’s drive to self-improvement) or even edit out traumatic memories. The first realm entered is the soul’s concept of “arrival”, and travel is a matter of emotional association and attempting to focus on the desired destination.

Temenos

The next layer of the Astral for mages is the shared soul of the human race. Every concept shared between more than one person exists as a realm somewhere within the Temenos, but may be difficult to find if especially rare. Mages are no exception – the Orders and Legacies all have representative realms in the Astral, and some astrally-oriented Legacies use their own realms as bases and staging areas for soul-voyages. Travel in the Temenos begins at the concept-world matching the Astral Path’s scenery, and proceeds as a game of free-association, finding conceptual links between scenes or seeking out a concept of “transport” or “travel”. Mages enter the Temenos to learn secrets, gather information, and influence Sleeper society – great changes to the Temenos representation of a concept alter how everyone in the material world regards that concept, although the vox populi has a habit of bouncing back hard following attempted subversion.

Anima Mundi

The final layer of the Astral accessible to mages, the Anima Mundi is the shared soul of the whole Fallen World. Travelers always arrived at the Boundary Stone, which is both the gateway to the Anima Mundi and the Temenos realm of “High Speech,” the thing that separates humanity from the world. Travel in the Anima Mundi isn’t the freeform web of emotions or concepts – when in the world’s soul, mages have to bow to how insignificant they are, and follow the prescribed paths. From the Boundary Stone, travelers enter either the realm of humanity’s devastating impact on the world or the broken, shattered world Axis Mundi, the spine of creation. From there, they enter the Dreaming Earth, the shared soul of everything in the material world, and finally to the Sidereal Wastes and the souls of the far planets and stars. Outside the soul of humanity, though, the Astral Realms constantly threaten to consume a traveler – Astral Winds pull travelers apart to fatal communion with the universe.

The Far Shore

At the very end of the Anima Mundi, in the Sidereal Wastes, explorers find a desolate beach on the shore of a jet-black ocean that only moves when they don’t look at it. The Ocean Oroboros is the Astral reflection of the Abyss, and mages can go no further. Around the ocean, the goetia representing the most fundamental concepts – the Arcana and Paradox – await travelers in citadels that might once have been bridges between the soul and the Supernal Realms. Travelers come to petition for knowledge and make deals with these “Aeons.”

Native Beings

The last part of our guided tour of the Fallen World will be the rules for ephemeral entities. We’re reprinting ghosts and spirits from God-Machine (reworded to remove angels and cut the wordage down) and adding;

Goetia: the inhabitants of the Astral Realms. Goetia have no native Manifestations (they don’t need them in the Astral) and have Influence over the concept they embody. Goetia summoned out into the material world with Mind magic exist in the “mental” Twilight of projectors and Auspex-using vampires, but can be granted ephemeral bodies and Manifestations using Spirit or Death magic.

Supernal Entities: Fae, Demons, Shades, Beasts, and Angels. Supernal entities have no Influences or Manifestations, and don’t even use Essence—they use Arcana and Mana instead.

Abyssal Entities: Abyssal beings represent the world they’re in being corrupted, and use the rules for whichever realm they were summoned in (in the Material world, this means they usually manifest as spirits, but can sometimes appear as ghosts.) Material, Shadow, and Underworld Abyssal creatures are called Gulmoth. Astral abyssal creatures are Acamoth. Every Abyssal represents some kind of twisting of reality, which they further with their influences – Gulmoth are spells gone wrong, violations of physical laws, and warped matter, while Acamoth try to make the conceptual realms they infect twist into hellish landscapes resonant with the Abyss.

Next Time!

After looking at the World, where do we go from here? Vote Atlantis to finally address the elephant in the room; the Time Before and the Fall. Vote Los Angeles to look at a specific example setting and its central Mystery.

  109 comments for “Terra Incognita [Mage: The Awakening]

  1. Iceblade44
    October 19, 2014 at 11:16 am

    Why not Atlantis

  2. Alessandro V.
    October 19, 2014 at 11:21 am

    Atlantis!

  3. LostLight
    October 19, 2014 at 11:27 am

    More Lower Depths info! Sure, it won’t be much, but still something! (I really hope that Annwn would get more love). Still, I hope for a Lower Depths book one day..

    Anyway- Atlantis please. I really wonder how it will work in 2e.

  4. Leliel
    October 19, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Wait, so Goetia exist on the same Twilight plane as Mekhet in Auspex mode?

    New plot hook everyone! Not hard either, just a rather strange and wild looking clone of a Touchstone wandering by and going “w’sup?” before they start wrecking the shit of people the Touschstone dislikes.

    I also love the fact that Annunaki are both gods and the Abyss’ Emanation Realms. We now have an idea of what happens if a Scelesi manages to pull off a full summoning of their lords. As well as the setting for the closing chapter of a chronicle focusing on the Abyss.

    As for the vote…hrmmm….

    *coin flip*

    As you can see, the monument on the tails side shows the temple of the Fallen World…blah blah blah, I’m voting for the City of Angels, Los Angeles.

  5. Eric Crabtree
    October 19, 2014 at 11:32 am

    Atlantis

  6. Felipe
    October 19, 2014 at 11:51 am

    God this post is awesome. Really liked the idea of Supernal and Abysal Verges.
    It’s great the Lower Depths are being expanded on! Tough I really hope to have a book dedicated to them or a book about all the Stranger Realms and things. I noticed that the Hedge is not mentioned, neither the strange Infrastructure of the God-Machine probably because of space, tough I hope a latter book gets Mage’s take on them.
    This book is gonna be great I can’t wait!
    My vote goes to L.A.

  7. Uxas
    October 19, 2014 at 11:54 am

    I loved Mage 1st edition. I think I’ll love still more this revised edition.

    Although in rules, I loved Awakening more than Ascension, in background I prefered Asension. But with the evolution in Awakening last years, and its culmination in the new core, that coud perfectly change: I love the historical background you are giving to the orders in the new core, I loving the new magical society approach, and I love the new expanded cosmology and all of this Terra Incognita stuff.

    A question about verges? In 1st edition, Verges were places where shadow and phisical realm collided (although there was also some references to Astral verges). But now they seem limited to Supernal and Abyssal. There will exist Shadow or Astral Verges in new edition?

    And I vote for Atlantis.

    • Michael Tree
      October 20, 2014 at 11:46 pm

      I agree completely with this comment. I found the 1e corebook’s cosmology rather stale and limited, but I adore all this strangeness.

      So, Atlantis!

  8. Afro Luigi
    October 19, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Atlantis

  9. Simplicity Lost
    October 19, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    I vote Atlantis, my players are dying to know how the origin story is changing.

  10. Octavo
    October 19, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Great preview! I wonder if the ultimate fate of souls is going to be covered in any book. Personally, I suspect that souls are dragged down into Duat.

    I vote Atlantis.

  11. branford
    October 19, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    Atlantis, please!

  12. MrParaduo
    October 19, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Atlantis!

  13. Illuminated
    October 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    The more of these I read the more excited I get for this.

    Atlantis! (Sorry LA, we’ll get you someday…)

  14. Tiresias
    October 19, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    The Safe Place Merit just got me wondering… did the old Sanctum Size Merit ever matter for anyone?

    Voting for Atlantis.

  15. branford
    October 19, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    Under the new naming conventions, would the Hedge from Changeling now be considered one of the myriad of realms of The Lower Depths?

    • LostLight
      October 19, 2014 at 2:01 pm

      Well, considering that the Lower Depths being a subjective term mages use to define everything they don’t really know, than maybe it is because some mages THINK they know where to put the Hedge in their cosmology- I could see a group of mages claiming it to be an Emanation Realm, while other debate about it actually being a Lower Depth.

      • Dave Brookshaw
        October 19, 2014 at 2:19 pm

        Yeah – we’re not going to mention the Hedge, or Changeling, at all in any Mage books for the forseeable. You’ll have to decide crossovers yourself.

        • Dataweaver
          October 19, 2014 at 8:45 pm

          For the record, Imperial Mysteries came as close to giving an official answer to the Arcadia question as we’re ever likely to get: if you buy that its reference to the “Old Gods of Thistle” is Mage-speak for “the Gentry”, then Changeling’s Arcadia is a series of Supernal Realms and/or Emanations that are only distantly related to the Realm of the Acanthus’ Watchtower (and in practice are entirely separate); and the Hedge is a counterpart to the Golden Roads of the Archmasters: a bridge across the Abyss that connects the Fallen World to the Realms of the Fae.

          If you buy the Old Gods/Gentry parallel.

          Oh: and I vote for Atlantis!

        • Falco1029
          October 19, 2014 at 11:49 pm

          While I love (And don’t get me wrong, still default to) the idea of the ‘one Arcadia’ theory, with the Hedge being an Emanation Realm and the Thorns being the Abyss encroaching on it, the Lower depths talk makes me think of an alternative, with Arcadia as being a Lower Depths reflection of Arcadia, two steps removed.

          The Arcana they’re missing would likely be Mind; Fate and bargains run everything, and there’s no room for personal interpretation or even common sense. Intentions don’t matter, nor does emotion, it’s all letter of the law.

          • Roads
            October 20, 2014 at 2:18 am

            Your interpretation also quite handily explains the Gentry’s penchant for doing unspeakable things to mortal dreams, there literally eating minds.

            I still prefer the ‘All of these things just kinda happen and don’t care that much about what everyone else says about how they should work.’ But when I do cut the setting to size, it is handy to have things clean up nicely.

            Also? Whoever came up with ‘Irises’ as a generic term for access point to Other Worlds deserves a metal, I had no idea I was missing that bit of Lexicon until I read it.

            A vote for Atlantis is cast!

          • LostLight
            October 20, 2014 at 4:13 pm

            Actually, I don’t think it is mind. I mean, the Depths are defined by what they eat and lack- and what the Gentry eat and lack is the ability to create. This is why Changelings can’t give birth usually, and the True Fae gain Glamor from destroying things. Dreams, souls and emotions are also all forms of that potential creation. If I were to choose an Arcane, I would say Prime of Forces- or maybe both, so they would make the Obrimos cry a little.

  16. Leetsepeak
    October 19, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Los Angeles.

  17. Viridian
    October 19, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    Atlantis, please

  18. montuban
    October 19, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    I vote Atlantis.

  19. Beard
    October 19, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Gonna vote for LA.

  20. Theeds
    October 19, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    Los Angeles.

  21. Yawgmoth
    October 19, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    Atlantis!

  22. Exthalion
    October 19, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    Definitely voting for Atlantis!

    One thing I always wondered about the Astral is if it is possible to descend from the Anima Mundi into an alien Temnos. If there is life out there it should have its own presence in the Astral, and the truly alien concepts found there could be a rich source of Mysteries. Yet if there are other Temnos out there, what about the other Realms of existence? Are they similarly shared, or are they unique?

    Fun to wonder about anyway.

    • The Cowardly Scion
      October 19, 2014 at 3:29 pm

      I suspect alien consciousness or even the minds of higher animals are “Here There Be Dragons” territory. These would be so inhuman that it would probably require very high mind or even unexpected arcana to untangle them due to how far removed from human experiences and symbols their thinking would be. Understanding the mind of another human from the same culture benefits from shared experiences and easier to relate to symbols but I would imagine that the further removed from similarity, the harder it is to understand the meaning of the mind’s symbols and thus orient one’s self in the mental landscape.

    • Dataweaver
      October 19, 2014 at 9:34 pm

      Before you can enter an alien Temenos, you’d need aliens with souls; AFAICT, the only thing in the nWoD that has a soul is the human being. That might have been different during the Time Before; but for now, humans are unique in this regard.

      I could maybe see multiple Temenoi in an Infinite Macabre setting; though even there, I suspect that the various Temenoi would overlap with each other. I could also see a Bleeding Edge setting going with the notion that androids [i]do[/i] dream of electric sheep, with emergent intelligences having their own “Temenos” that’s simar to, but distinct from, the cyberpunk notion of cyberspace.

  23. DreamingGod
    October 19, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    I vote Atlantis!

    Very awesome, the Mysteries are one of the best parts of Mage.

  24. Stephen
    October 19, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Atlantis. ’nuff said.

  25. Tenskwa-Tawa
    October 19, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    Awesome! I really, really, want to see more on those Emanation Realms and Annunaki. Not to mention that finally having all the different realms addressed in a single book will greatly simplify things for new players.

    I’m very interested in new settings and central mysteries, but Secrets of the Ruined Temple is my favourite supplement, so this one’s a no brainer: my vote goes to Atlantis.

  26. Nicias
    October 19, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    Los Angeles, please. I want to learn Mel Gibson’s ban.

    Are goetia going to be easier for mages to use as allies in the physical world then they were in 1e?

  27. Yossarian
    October 19, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    The other realms and hallows and such were always the aspect of Mage that made my head hurt, so if this post is representative of the new core, it sounds like all the confusion I had was dealt with brilliantly.

    I vote Atlantis!

  28. B
    October 19, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    Los Angeles and its central Mystery.

  29. Asaram
    October 19, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    I’m voting Atlantis, sounds like fun 🙂

  30. Wolf
    October 19, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    Atlantis

  31. GhostTurtle
    October 19, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    Atlantis is waiting.

  32. CJ_D
    October 19, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    Fun Stuff All Around.

    Would like to see more content on the lower depths, mainly because of the relative lack of content currently out there. Maybe handle it like the VII, with any concrete information presented as wildly contradictory possibilities.

  33. October 19, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    L.A. is a beautiful city, filled with beautiful people. But, I believe, that beauty is only a pale reflection of What Came Before. And besides, I’m a Bostonian; content to leave the West Coast to it’s movie stars and fault lines.

    Tell me about Atlantis!

  34. wyrdhamster
    October 19, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Coming to the Abyss denizens question – Are Gulmoths still summoned for short time in to Fallen World? Or Acamoth can linger physically in material realm?

    And as my game is based on Mystery of post Fall archamsters – tell me about Golden Island. Let’s hear about Atlantis! ( Sorry LA, you will wait a little longer. )

  35. KingCarnival
    October 19, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    Atlantis

  36. Wolfgar
    October 19, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    Let’s go ahead and get the rough patch out of the way. I vote for Atlantis.

  37. Thorbes
    October 19, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    My favourite update so far.

    I like the way ghosts are trated now, instead of the old party line of being ehemeral automatas. Mystery is always better than blind belief.

    Also loving Goetia as the general term for Astral beings.

    Let’s see that big elehant in the room that is Atlantis, then.

    • Dave Brookshaw
      October 19, 2014 at 5:56 pm

      About that – we don’t especially care about God-Machine Demons, or Inferno Demons (which are called “Akathartoi” in Mage anyway,) but it stretched my personal credulity that ONE Path of Mages would deal extensively with two different kinds of entity and call them BOTH “Demons”. Not when mages are so maddeningly jargon-heavy in every other aspect of their lives. The Mastigos would have a distinction between manifest vices and Supernal Imps and Wraiths.

      So I put it to the team – either rename Astral Entities or rename the inhabitants of Pandemonium. After several suggestions, expanding the word “Goetia” to mean “Astral Entities” won out.

      • TheNate
        October 23, 2014 at 7:49 pm

        I may not agree with all the terms* you landed on, but I utterly agree with that reasoning. A very brief sidebar in Antagonists can answer the frequently asked question “How do mages summon demons?” with pointers to all of these.

        (*Acamoth, in particular, is both a change from 1e *and* another odd use of the term…)

  38. Brian Goubeaux
    October 19, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    My brother and I want to know more about Los Angeles. I want to know why Mage was given a second US city as a signature city.

    • Nicias
      October 19, 2014 at 7:44 pm

      LA is just one of several settings in the book. I don’t think there’s any one new signature city.

      • Dave Brookshaw
        October 20, 2014 at 2:27 am

        Yeah – Mage contains LA, London, Salamanca, Tucson, and Tokyo. New York was sketched out, cut for space, and might be an early post-release blog.

        • Eolirin
          October 20, 2014 at 10:23 pm

          Very curious what New York’s Mystery is, so I hope it gets that blog post.

        • wyrdhamster
          October 21, 2014 at 5:19 am

          I’m very interesting how mine private London setting is diffrent from official one. Also, I hope Tokyo will get very nice, oriental feel. And, finally, I very much look for Los Angeles setting, as Dream Factory popullated by the guys making dreams come true ( i.e. Awakened 😉 ).

    • Roads
      October 20, 2014 at 2:25 am

      We’ve been told its working the same way the cities were in Blood & Smoke, including a return to Tokyo as seen through the a Mage’s Sight. LA just happens to be among them, and probably happens to be sitting in a mostly finished state ready to be used.

      • Dave Brookshaw
        October 20, 2014 at 2:29 am

        Just so – I’ve already redlined LA, as it’s the one I use for one of my playtest chronicles. I talked about it a bit at GenCon.

    • Roads
      October 20, 2014 at 2:25 am

      We’ve been told its working the same way the cities were in Blood & Smoke, including a return to Tokyo as seen through a Mage’s Sight. LA just happens to be among them, and probably happens to be sitting in a mostly finished state ready to be used.

  39. Zooroos
    October 19, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    Wonderful post as usual, Dave. I want to see how all these neat little pieces work together in a particular place.

    So yeah, give me LA mysteries!

  40. Axelgear
    October 19, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    Atlantis, ho!

  41. VeiledSpectre
    October 19, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    I have to say, I am a bit concerned about the equality of treatment the Underworld might be getting as compared to the Shadow. In the first edition, the Shadow very much came across as a first-class setting element, whereas the Underworld was non-existent. While I like that the Underworld is definitely getting some more word-count, I’m not sure I like the characterizations that are accompanying the writeups. For mages relationship with the Shadow:

    “They can be ambassadors to the flesh, rulers of miniature fiefdoms, backers of spirit politics (using magic to generate Essence is a well-known trick), and many other roles, but they’re outsiders.”

    Meanwhile, with the Underworld:

    “Even Moros don’t tend to linger in the land of the dead, though—it has a way of twisting the emotions of unprotected explorers, and the treasures and Mysteries of the dead are guarded by both extremely high-Rank ghosts and the Underworld’s bizarre “Cthonian” natives.”

    Why is it that mages with spirit magics are characterized as “…ambassadors to the flesh, rulers of miniature fiefdoms, backers of spirit politics (using magic to generate Essence is a well-known trick)…” but the path most innately tied to the Underworld itself “…don’t tend to linger in the land of the dead, though”?

    I feel like it generates an in-setting stigma against the use of the Death Arcanum as a player and makes it less attractive as compared to the Spirit Arcanum. Whereas the write-up makes me as a player want to actively explore the shadow and it gets me excited, the same write-up makes me feel guilty for wanting to do the same things in the Underworld, like its “bad-wrong-fun” to be “…ambassadors to the flesh, rulers of miniature fiefdoms, backers of -ghost- politics (using magic to generate Essence is a well-known trick)…” etc…

    • Leliel
      October 19, 2014 at 8:15 pm

      Have you SEEN the Underworld?

      The only splat that is ever at home there is Sin-Eaters, and only because they have a native in the back of their heads. And even they’re not particularly welcome.

      This has more to do with how the Underworld operates as opposed to the Shadow. The Shadow is the Primeval Wilderness, a terrible and wonderful place unsoiled by man (or rather, enhanced by man’s actions-the spirits of artifice have as much right to exist as the spirits of nature). It’s quite possible, even likely, for a mage to set up a private fiefdom there; it’s the Frontier, the Unexplored Forest.

      The Underworld, on the other hand, is the Last Destination, the place where we all go in the end, even if it’s only as a subway terminal to the place beyond the veil, and we don’t spend any time there. And the thing is, it is perfectly fine with encouraging people to become semi-permanent residents faster. The gods of death are frequently gods of power and wealth for a reason, they own who and whatever comes into their domain, which is eventually everything. It isn’t a place for the living, and it will attempt to rectify that with any premature visitors. It’s the Dark Place, the nation that you do not simply walk into without good reason, and which strange and dark things come out of.

      It’s not impossible to be an emissary or viceroy of the dead, it’s just that the dead resent it when the living try to change them, and ESPECIALLY the Kerberoi, who are effectively consistency embodied.

      • VeiledSpectre
        October 19, 2014 at 9:01 pm

        I wouldn’t be opposed to this line of thinking if it didn’t directly mean that the Death arcana had all over less utility than the Spirit Arcana.. For many Arcana, there are enough effects that it never feels like you are making a bad choice choosing one over the other. The exception I feel is Death. Because of the VAST capability built into the variety of control Spirit Mages can bring to muster and the vastness of the realm they can explore and muck with – I fail to see any reason to pick up Death in its place.

        I never look at Fate and Prime and think “Man, Prime is so much less useful than Fate”, nor do I think “Man, why would anyone pick Forces over Matter” The Arcana in these cases do VASTLY different things, but each are powerful within their purview. The problem is that Spirit and death OVERLAP in their purviews a lot and I see NO reason out of character why Death would ever be preferred.

        This is my gripe with this particular presentation of the Underworld: It makes the Death Arcana less interesting to players and useful by extension.

      • VeiledSpectre
        October 19, 2014 at 9:02 pm

        I wouldn’t be opposed to this line of thinking if it didn’t directly mean that the Death arcana had all over less utility than the Spirit Arcana.. For many Arcana, there are enough effects that it never feels like you are making a bad choice choosing one over the other. The exception I feel is Death. Because of the VAST capability built into the variety of control Spirit Mages can bring to muster and the vastness of the realm they can explore and muck with – I fail to see any reason to pick up Death in its place.

        I never look at Fate and Prime and think “Man, Prime is so much less useful than Fate”, nor do I think “Man, why would anyone pick Forces over Matter” The Arcana in these cases do VASTLY different things, but each are powerful within their purview. The problem is that Spirit and death OVERLAP in their purviews a lot and I see NO reason out of character why Death would ever be preferred.

        This is my gripe with this particular presentation of the Underworld: It makes the Death Arcana less interesting to players and useful by extension.

        Also I pick Atlantis… 🙂

        • Nicias
          October 20, 2014 at 1:44 am

          Death does a lot of things though! Face-melting, forensics, twilight, ghosts, the Underworld, item-wrecking…the list goes on. It’s a fantastically versatile and badass arcanum.

          Spirit meanwhile is a few misc. tricks and then mostly just dealing with the Shadow and its denizens. That’ll hopefully be better in 2E, but I suspect it still won’t be as broad as Death.

        • Roads
          October 20, 2014 at 2:37 am

          As a minor point, maybe a change of perspective will help:

          The Shadow World is place you visit, that you explore, trade with, it is a foreign land where you will never belong, but where you might one day feel welcome.

          The Underworld is a place you delve, you do not belong here, pray that remains the case, its a place of opportunity and danger, your fate is forever uncertain here, it is a Dungeon, a place you go for the advantage to be gained.

  42. Satchel
    October 19, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    Let’s hear about Atlantis.

  43. Arcane
    October 19, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    Atlantis.

  44. reseru
    October 19, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Great post.

    Alas, I sigh with despair again as LA has no chance of winning – just like last week. Ah, well. LA still gets my vote.

    I expect Atlantis in the new core to be more ‘broad ancient days of magic’ whereas the presentation of Atlantis in Dark Eras will be more ‘Plato’s sunken continent ruled by Poseidon.’ That’d be a nice way to evenly divide such a muddled concept (in the meta sense of how people perceived it in Mage’s early days) while still retaining both flavors

    • Dave Brookshaw
      October 20, 2014 at 9:57 am

      It’s more like “broad ancient days of magic” versus “imaginary Utopia we’ve stolen the name of to describe the broad ancient days of magic after realizing all our cultures have different versions of it.”

      The Time Before in Alexander’s time is a case of Greek mages describing the Pelasgian Heroes of the Men of Bronze, and how they changed the world with their Hubris, to Indian mages who describe their own stories about the Naga People of the previous cycle. And both mages thinking “hang on…”

      “Atlantis” is just a name coined for an imaginary kingdom at around the right time by one of the cultures involved, so they used the name. If the Diamond had formed in 16th-Century England, we’d be going on about “Utopian Mages” instead.

      All of which is a smokescreen for the ancient ruins filled with screaming ghosts, orichalcum-fueled guardian-constructs and idols depicting things that definitely aren’t human.

      • reseru
        October 20, 2014 at 12:12 pm

        All the better. And hell, with time and magic working how they do in Mage I’m sure there’s a Ruin of Before of a Utopian Renaissance. They probably discovered it in the middle ages, too, for extra mind boggling

      • tau neutrino
        October 21, 2014 at 5:42 am

        Did the name become popular when Plato first wrote about it, or in the 19th century when the concept spread among mortal occultists?

  45. ale
    October 19, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    Atlantis

  46. atamajakki
    October 19, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    Voting for Los Angeles.

    Can you elaborate a little on what you mean when you say that each of the Lower Depths is missing one or more of the Arcana? (As an aside, I’d love to see a book on the Depths someday).

    • Michelle G
      October 22, 2014 at 12:33 am

      From what little is out there about the lower depths, I think I can at least begin to comment on that. Keep in mind that this is in part my head cannon from the last edition and I know it’s going to change because the nature of the supernal is changing:

      First, it’s best to imagine how the Fallen World (the material, the astral, the shadow, and everything else) is a degree removed from the supernal thanks to the abyss. It’s best to think of creatures in the lower depths as even further removed from what “truth” reinforces reality. These creatures are barely substantial and exist only in the barest sense of the term. If you look at the 10 arcana as the 10 aspects of existence, it follows that things that… barely exist would only be comprised of a few of the arcana.

      I’m trying to keep my terms guarded, because from what I understand about 2e, the supernal is a “state” similar to twilight rather than a place removed from the supernal by distance. But, if I were to venture a guess, the explanation for why beings of the lower depths lack certain arcana still comes down to the same thing: they are so far removed from existence that certain arcana are entirely absent.

      That said, I’d really like to see more on the lower depths in the future. A lot of the stuff I’ve made around it is largely homebrewed because I think that it’s a mystery that is both enticing and frightening, enforcing the idea of mysteries and the danger that comes along with them. Obviously, I’ve heard that won’t happen in the near future, but maybe down the line… we’ll see. I’ll be excited for 2e regardless.

      Vote, since I’m posting: LA sounds good to me, I’d like to have a glimpse at some setting material.

  47. Falco1029
    October 19, 2014 at 11:36 pm

    Glad to see the continuation of ‘Safe Place is the base, then add splat-specific home merits’, makes things a lot cleaner, especially in crossover.

    I also like that ley lines are now by default visible to all mage sights, instead of needing a special spell or a bunch of scrutiny. I’m very interested to see actual mechanics for nodes intersecting with Hallows, though.

    I’m also glad to see Spirit/Death is what actually gives ephemeral forms and manifestations to Goetia, instead of letting Mind do it alone.

    I do wish the ‘crossover depths’ would get a bit of a mention in the book itself, but I can understand that being hard to justify when you’re packing word count to begin with.

    Anyway, I vote Los Angeles.

  48. WuseMajor
    October 19, 2014 at 11:46 pm

    Voting Atlantis

    Also, what’s the difference between the current Demsense merit and the new 2e one? It kinda sounds like Sanctum is going to replace what we’ve got now. Or am I misremembering?

  49. Olivier
    October 20, 2014 at 12:27 am

    Atlantis

  50. October 20, 2014 at 1:16 am

    ELEPHANT! ATLANTIS!

  51. NateD
    October 20, 2014 at 4:02 am

    Oh man, as much as I really want to find out about LA, I’ve always been a big fan of Atlantis. I abstain. 😮

    Also: I’m loving where this is going, Dave! Some things there definitely surprised me, in a good way!

  52. kostas
    October 20, 2014 at 5:23 am

    Very,very,very interesting material…I think 2ed will be a blast of Awakened Mysteries!Anyway i vote for “the thorn in the flesh”for some people:Atlantis!

  53. MisterE
    October 20, 2014 at 6:08 am

    I’ve always defended and supported Atlantis’ inclusion in the nWoD/Awakening backstory – mostly because all those people who preached about how bad Awakening was made Atlantis their bête noire – so I vote for Atlantis!

  54. tau neutrino
    October 20, 2014 at 7:53 am

    Can Mind 5 be used to enter the Astral Realms without a Hallow or Demense?

    as interested in mages as they were in Prometheans.

    • tau neutrino
      October 20, 2014 at 8:07 am

      Atlantis.

    • Dave Brookshaw
      October 20, 2014 at 9:05 am

      No – the Astral Realms are the inside of your soul, not the inside of your mind. Using mind to enter your own dreams or artificially meditate is pretty trivial.

      To twist a subject’s conciousness inward and artificially put them into the Astral would require conjunctional Mind and Death. I will ponder on what Practices are needed – most likely Weaving if it’s a mage (they *can* do it already, they just aren’t) or Patterning for a Sleeper you want to send to the Temenos for some reason.

      • The Nate
        October 20, 2014 at 3:05 pm

        Does that imply a focusing of the “Soul” purview onto Death? i.e. Will Spirit lose Soul Jar, Restore Lost Soul, and the ability to locate a detached soul?

  55. Aurumae
    October 20, 2014 at 9:31 am

    Atlantis!

    Wow, fantastic post. I love that the various side-settings of Mage will be getting more attention in the new edition, but will the material supersede what’s gone before in Astral Realms etc. or will it simply be including some of that material in the core book?

    I like the fact that the underworld will be getting more attention, it always felt weird having first read Geist and then running Awakening and not having any info on how Mages treat the underworld.

    One thing I hope will be included in the descriptions of these realms is how much Mages know (or can learn) about their inhabitants. My players are often confused about how much is common knowledge to Mages (e.g. do they understand what a spirit from the shadow is or do they need to spend some time in the library) and it gets even more confusing when if you want to include some crossover material (e.g. would any Mage know what a Geist is if they stumbled across one?)

    • Dave Brookshaw
      October 20, 2014 at 9:43 am

      Mechanics will obviously change a bit. For Astral Realms, Goetia are now their own type of entity rather than using straight Spirit stats, and the various spells and artifacts would need reworking, but our innovations to the Astral are a mostly addressing things that didn’t make it into first edition. Things like which Temenos Realm you arrive in when you go to the Temenos – Oneiros and Anima Mundi are described in the Astral Realms book, but Temenos isn’t.

      Also the “you appear as your soul’s self-image” thing, which wasn’t clear at all last time around as allows us to draw on a surprisingly large body of “in the otherworld, the wizard looks different / is a different gender” in Mage’s external sources.

      For first edition’s material on “mages in the Underworld”, you want Book of the Dead, btw.

  56. shkspr1048
    October 20, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    I seem to recall a Space spell from “Astral Realms” that allowed for bodily transit to the Astral; at least, that’s what it implied to me. Will such a thing be possible in the new edition, or is it a consciousness-only journey?

    Oh, and Atlantis, please.

  57. Tori
    October 20, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    Atlantis!!!

  58. AlexS
    October 20, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    LA.

  59. AgryCucaracha
    October 20, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    I wonder if the Aeons are supernatural beings or goetia, also very interested to see the analysis of the shadow. I also dont get 100% how Aether verges are supposed to be used in game. Mazes, places of lost time etc can all be interesting, but firestorm does not sound like somewhere you can explore without huge shielding. Also one would think it moves constantly

    I’m going to vote LA (¡Salamanca!, but I take what i can). I feel Atlantis we already know mostly about.

    • wyrdhamster
      October 21, 2014 at 5:29 am

      Example of Firestorm usage: My players cabal is looking for new Sanctum, as they burn they conntacts in home Consillium. As they are all now on archeomancy quest around the world, they choose to use airship. The only problem would be with Mana supply from the Hallow, as they won’t have constant ones. This Aether Verges with Firestorms I suspect filled with raw Mana will be great for them. 🙂

  60. Solana
    October 20, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    With Prime’s new focus on ‘Truth’, and Mind already influencing Onieromancy AND Astral Projection, I don’t understand why things like connecting the Oneiros of different individuals isn’t a Prime Spell, or why influencing the reflections of the soul are not also Prime, as a way of broadening what Prime even means.

  61. Chazz
    October 20, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    Atlantis

  62. crawlkill
    October 20, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    Atlantis and the general inflexible mythic underpinnings of the setting have always been my least favorite part of nMage, particularly in contrast to the complete flexibility of oMage, so that’s the bit I’d like to hear about.

    • Dave Brookshaw
      October 21, 2014 at 2:16 am

      Do you use Avatars in cMage?

  63. Phersus
    October 21, 2014 at 8:11 am

    Answer 1: Yes i did use Avatars in cMage.

    Answer 2: Bring on Atlantis!!

  64. ThatGuy
    October 21, 2014 at 11:34 am

    Great job! Another solid upgrade to this game that not only helps clarify some things, but opens up the imagination to a ton of new possibilities!

    As much as I would love to say “Atlantis”, I think I would rather see how all of this stuff, and everything that has been unsaid thus far, could fit together and be applicable to the Fallen World. L.A. please.

  65. arthexis
    October 21, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    Well, Atlantis. Also, hey can’t we just get this corebook like in two tomes? So we can fit all the amazing stuff in? Just saying. Or just make a ST companion book right after, I’d buy that too.

  66. Beldro
    October 21, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    Atlantis

  67. Full Time GM
    October 21, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    West Coast is best coast; Los Angeles please.

  68. Dave
    October 21, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    Hope this elephant gets used in an Edison exhibit on alternating current… So yea, lets hear about Atlantis

  69. Ephsy
    October 22, 2014 at 11:50 am

    The elephant in the room, I mean, Atlantis.

  70. jordan
    October 22, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    Atlantis!!!

  71. An alarming number of bees
    October 23, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    As much as I would like to see an example setting, I’m voting Atlantis. I just gotta know.

  72. ASwagman
    October 24, 2014 at 12:06 am

    The integration of the work on all the various realms into the new corebook has renewed my interest in this. The Emanation Realms is one of the things from Imperial Mysteries that I wanted to see integrated into Mage. And everything about the Lower Depths is interesting, since we know so little about it.

    It’s probably too late at this point, but I vote for Los Angeles. I want to see how all this central Mystery and other new stuff works in practice.

    I have to say something about the Atlantis Hate. My personal observation of that Hate, and the hate for Mage in general, has been that people project things they hate onto Mage. When someone rants that they want an element of a franchise removed because they hate it, you can’t do it if it exists only in their own head. Judging from what I have read here, I can safely skip that blog. I can guess what it will inlcude, and I won’t be able to resist reading the comments of people who make stuff up and hate on that, which I am certain will continue.

  73. Burke Reimann
    October 25, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    Atlantis!

  74. Michael
    October 26, 2014 at 5:18 am

    Love it! I was always a bit Iffy on the Astral worlds, but this makes me all tingly about them.

    I vote for Atlantis.

  75. Andrew Thomas
    October 28, 2014 at 4:59 am

    Atlantis.

    I was seriously liking the idea of the Supernal Realms being a kind of exclusion zone around the Watchtowers, which themselves are holdfasts within the larger realms beyond the Fallen World. Think of it as the Bailey around the Keep within a castle: a relatively safe, open, and defensible area that those within the Keep can easily overwatch.

    On an unrelated note: can we lighten up Rote-building requirements, or at the very least, avoid using concrete Rote write-ups that are only tied to 1or 2 Orders in the fluff? It would give the players more agency in choosing their Rotes if the Storyteller is encouraged to adjust Practices into Rotes that speak to the Mage’s choice of Order, rather than relying on what’s published as being appropriate for a given Order. The suggested skill entries on the spells that have been spoiled here before look like a step in the right direction, but we need to encourage more improvisational storytelling when characters express a desire for spells that diverge from their parent Order’s theme a bit.

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