A Beautiful Crime (Guardians of the Veil) [Mage: The Awakening]


Welcome back, faithful readers!

Continuing our pre-GenCon run through of the second edition Orders, it’s time for the Guardians of the Veil.

First, some music from Tamer


What to say about the Guardians? More than any other Order (except maybe the Seers) they were most clarified and improved by their Order book, so readers jumping straight from first to second edition with the corebooks will face a shock while those who’ve stuck with Awakening over the last ten years will find them almost unchanged. It’s compounded by the fact that the Guardian book was the third-ever sourcebook for Awakening, so the internal details of their religion have been well-known for virtually all of the game’s existence. And now, with a second edition, we can cement them.

Guardians of the Veil make for fascinating player characters and excellent “friendly” antagonists for other Orders – the Order thrives on the symbolism of being distrusted, though for the most part tales of Guardians assassinating other Pentacle mages are exaggerations or miss out crucial “he was Left-Handed” details. They’re the “magic should be used responsibly” faction [i]and[/i] the “we take on the burden of acting against Wisdom so other mages don’t have to” faction. They’re a true religion, zen-like in their acceptance of being damned by their own actions and with a tendency toward disassociation (which can be very bad indeed in Mage’s world – not for nothing is the main runner-up to the Tremere in “notable Reaper Legacies” stakes the exclusivly-Guardian (Legion).)

Second Edition’s changes to the Paradox and Wisdom systems, if anything, help to reinforce the Guardians’ themes rather than hinder them. Because no spell is inherently “vulgar” or “covert” any more, Guardian PCs don’t have to justify going against the Order’s stated goals. Because even trying [i]and failing[/i] to Contain a Paradox results in the caster being marked by the Abyss but keeps innocent bystanders safe, the Guardians become the mages who advise other Awakened to cast soberly, safely, and with preplanning – and if they *can’t*, to take the consequences on themselves rather than damn the world a little more. Because Wisdom as an Integrity trait punishes impulsive behavior among other things, Guardians advising restraint aren’t just pollyannas with knives behind their backs – they’re [i]right[/i]. In a perfect world, everyone would treat magic the way the Guardians advise.

It’s not a perfect world, though. Only the most dogmatic Guardian would refuse to cause Quiescence in a Sleeper if it were a matter of life and death. Ideals untested are worthless, and part of being a religion based on taking on sins for other people is the acceptance that sins do, sometimes, need to happen.

For this post’s Merit, I want to take a look at the new version of a venerable system. The Guardian writeup in Mage’s core mentions Masques – the formulaic, archetypal proto-identities Guardians learn to better disguise themselves and their intentions, and to put their own identities and egos aside when doing the Order’s work. Masques were based on the 49 combinations of Virtue and Vice in first edition Storytelling, each its own Merit. When designing second edition, we knew that with freeform Virtues and Vices the old scheme would need work, and that we wouldn’t have room to give the Guardians 49 individual Merits.

As with Seer Prelacies (which you’ll see when we get up to the Seers in three weeks’ time) we decided to do one unified Merit representing all Masques, which the player then customizes in the manner of Professional Training or Mystery Cult. Check it out;

Merit: Masque (• to •••••, Style)

Prerequisites: Guardians of the Veil Status •

Effect: The Guardians must adopt Masques, personas, in order to detach from the grim necessities of their work and stay in cover. Their ancient practices allow these Masques to become different people almost entirely; they have different abilities and even ethical codes to suit the role. At each level of Masque, the persona gains different abilities that are only available to the character upon donning the Masque. Adopting a Masque requires spending a point of Willpower, which cannot be replenished so long as the character maintains the identity. Shedding a Masque requires a full minute to get “out of character”.

To take additional Masques, purchase them as single, two-dot Merits. This gives the additional Masques at the same level as the primary Masque.

Identity (•): Choose a Virtue and Vice different than that of your character. While in the Masque, your character benefits from those traits instead of her own.

Competency (••): Choose Skill Specialties equal to the Masque Merit dots. Your character uses those Specialties instead of her own while in the Masque.

Diffusion (•••): Choose a new Signature Nimbus (see p. XX). While in the Masque, your character uses that Nimbus instead of her own.

The Code (••••): Choose two acts of hubris your character would normally suffer. While in the Masque, your character does not risk Wisdom for those acts.

Immersion (•••••): Choose up to five Merit dots. When your character dons her Masque, she gains access to these Merits. These Merits must be logical parts of the identity, at Storyteller discretion, and cannot include further Masques.

Guardians of the Veil Preview

Finally, here is a link to the current draft of the Guardians of the Veil

See you next week, where we’ll tred the Atheneum’s halls and delve into the Egregore of the Mysterium.






20 responses to “A Beautiful Crime (Guardians of the Veil) [Mage: The Awakening]”

  1. Chris Borgars-Smith Avatar
    Chris Borgars-Smith

    I love the contemptible secret police and I love this merit.
    Have not had a chance to read the full write-up yet, but I love love love Masque.

  2. Xenesis Avatar

    Heh, Masques feel very Demon: The Descent Cover inspired.

    Sounds like a lot of fun, though.

  3. Raibran Avatar

    “Yet if sins for a just end grant Wisdom, Guardians are therefore capable of transferring merit, leaving all other souls and Orders flawed in their ignorance.”

    I’ll confess to not knowing what this means. Can this be clarified a little bit? Thanks!

    1. Neall Avatar

      Sin causes Wisdom degradation, but the Guardians know that the ends justify the means, so they’re capable of semi-directly applying that knowledge to stave off Wisdom loss – or, at least, recognizing that that’s how it should work.

  4. Sean Avatar

    Oh, yes. This is what I’ve been waiting for. My first and favorite mage was a Guardian of the Veil. Getting hyped for Mage 2e.

  5. kumiko Avatar

    Son of a B! They were already nasty enough. Now you go and make them totally playable? !?

  6. Michael Stein Avatar
    Michael Stein

    Seers of the Throne was the book that made Awakening click for me. The Pentacle vs the Throne handles the themes of liberty, control and power more cleanly than the Technocracy for me. Now that I have M20 in front of me I would probably play up the Guardian aspect of the Technocracy a la S.H.I.E.L.D., MI5 from the Bond novels or even the Aeon Society from Trinity, in alliance with the Council of Nine and the Disparate Alliance against rechristened Ministers of the Throne in silent partnership with the Nephandi. They still call the Traditions superstitionalists, but it should feel more like the Science faculty snarking off at the Humanities.

  7. shkspr1048 Avatar

    A bit of a tangent, but way back when the Free Council splat was previewed, none of the FC’s toys were shown. Any chance of getting a look at them now?

    1. Zooroos Avatar

      I second the motion. Pretty please?

      1. Hiram Alem Avatar

        Thirding the motion. Pretty please, Dave?

  8. Nicias Avatar

    The old Guardian book sold me on mage. This lived up to it. Not too shabby.

  9. JSinclair Avatar

    Dat opening dialog tho…

    I read it out loud to a die-hard Arrows player and he was like, “Ok, why am I not playing that right now?”

    1. Neall Avatar

      Wait until you read him the Seer one.

  10. James Harren Avatar
    James Harren

    So, they’re like the “Faceless Men” 😉

  11. Riley Avatar

    The Guardians seem really cool to me. I get them better than I did in the MtA core book.

    Quick question (speaking of Paradoxes)…have the Scelesti been discussed at all at this point? Did I miss it? Just wondering if anybody saw anything that I didn’t.

  12. WuseMajor Avatar

    So, I should say I was never a fan of the Guardians. I only ever bought the Free Council and Mysterium books and the Mysterium book made me too mad to actually read it.

    As such, pretty much everything I knew about the Guardians came from the old core book and I was very much not interested in them. Or, really, anyone but the Free Council.

    Similarly, I wasn’t really that enthused by any of the Paths back then.

    Now, I think all the paths are interesting and I’m similarly interested in all of the new Orders.

    1. Sean Avatar

      Never read the Mysterium book. What about it annoyed ou so much?

  13. Sean Avatar

    I know that some people are big Guardian fans, since their book was the one that really drew them into Awakening. Personally, the Arrow book did it for me. But that said… I’ve got new respect for the Guardians. I want to play one now. And that’s coming from a guy who never played them before.

    Suddenly, I’m imagining Madame de Fer dressed in a pantsuit, being all nice and pleasant as she casually threatens some Scelesti patsy with fire for information on where his masters are hiding.

  14. Eric Crabtree Avatar
    Eric Crabtree

    My favorite order. They were my first character, my first MtW book I bought, and I’m getting their glyph inked on me here in a couple of months