Time for the Devil to get his due.
Several years ago, when we were writing what is now Vampire: The Requiem Second Edition, I was taking a lot of notes about how I’d handle Mage in what was then still The Fallen World Chronicle. Rose’s decision to put VII at the front of Blood & Smoke along with the other covenants cemented something I’ve felt for years.
That is, that for all its other qualities the original corebook for Mage did not serve the Seers well.
The Seers of the Throne had a bumpy ride as antagonists, until eventually earning their place as probably Mage‘s primary source of opposition for player cabals. Some books, like Sanctum and Sigil, remembered to spend time on them, while others all-but ignored them. Depending on which book you read, the sixth Order may as well not have existed.
That changed – for the better – when the Seer book came out. Every Mage release since then has had Seer content in it. Maybe not much, but when we wrote the Chronicler’s Guide, Imperial Mysteries, or Left Hand Path we were always careful to at least address what the Ministries thought about the subject at hand. And it was while doing that, which necessitated us having to explain the structure of the Ministries and the identities of the chief Exarchs over and over again (as we try to never rely on a none-core release) that I finally decided to apply for the role as Mage Developer.
Yes, the second edition of Awakening has many causes behind it, is the product of a hard-working team examining and reexamining and re-imagining systems for over three years, but it all started when I thought to myself “if only I could do a new corebook, so I didn’t have to explain what the Archigenitors were any more.”
So, then. The Seers.
The Seers are the greatest enemy of the Pentacle, and all good feuds it comes down to their essential similarity; Mad Ones, Liches, and Banishers are all aberrant in some way, slid off the parameters of being “proper” mages. Abyssal Entities are more forces of (un)nature than relateable antagonists, and are only slightly worse than ghosts, spirits, goetia, and Supernal entities.
Seers, though, Seers are just like you. They’ve got their own political structure, but so do the Free Council. They have potent tricks up their sleeve (perhaps more potent than those the Pentacle have, at the hefty cost of service to the Supernal Tyrants), but ultimately, Seers are just mages. Anyone can Awaken, decide “fuck the world, I’m going to get mine” and join them. That’s why the sects hate one another so much; they’re mirror-images.
Unlike the Left Handed, Awakening Second Edition does contain full mechanics for the Seers – it’s not a “fair” share of content (They have far, far less than 1/6th of the wordcount) but it’s much more than in first edition. Armed with the gameline so far behind us, we set aside a little room in the Setting Chapter to cover the Iron Pyramid, in the Yantra system to discuss Seer Tools, in the Merits to look at Prelacies, in the Mysterious World Chapter to discuss Exarchal Verges, and in the Sleepers and Sleepwalker Appendix to look at Seer slaves and servitors. And, just like Vampire with VII, we put the Seers into the Order “splat” pages at the front of the book.
I don’t expect many troupes to use Seers as player characters – their mechanics in the new core are designed for use as antagonists, so get a bit more condensed than other topics – but it’s important to me that you can, should you wish to.
For this post’s mechanical treat, here’s the second-edition version of Prelacy, the Attainment-like powers that a large minority of Seers gain over time. Becoming a Prelate is like being “made” in the mafia; it’s the point where the Seer can no longer back out and join another Order (assuming they’ll have him) or turn Nameless. The point where they stop dipping their feet and embrace their role as servants of the Lie.
In converting the Prelacy system, we’ve attempted to strike a balance between keeping the flavor of individual Exarchs and not having the Merit take up five pages of the book, the same process that we had to put Guardian Masques through.
Merit: Prelacy (Style, • to ••••)
Prerequisites: Seers of the Throne Status •••
Effect: A successful Seer who has served her patron Exarch well can cast spells in his name. She hears the Tyrants’ voices in her sleep. She understands their demands directly. A black iron portal forms deep within her Oneiros, and her daimon, the goetia representing her drive to further herself, becomes twisted by the Exarch’s agenda.
She gains the following effects, at each rank of this Merit:
Chosen Vessel (•): your character gains the Persistent Mystery Commands Condition.
Sword (••): The character may use the patron Exarch’s symbolism as a Patron Yantra in spellcasting, worth half her Prelacy dots in dice (round up).
Crown (•••): The character gains an Attainment based on her Exarch’s symbolism.
Temple (••••): If one of your character’s soul stones is incorporated into a Demesne, the Demesne becomes a Supernal Verge keyed to her Exarch, inhabited by Supernal Entities loyal to the Throne. Including soul stones from Seers with Prelacy linked to a different Exarch causes the Temple to collapse and immediately destroys all soul stones involved.
Drawback: Once the Exarchs have given a command, they expect it to be carried out without delay. The character may only earn Arcane Beats from their other Obsessions in a chapter when they have already earned one for following the one granted by Mystery Commands.
Crown Attainments of the Greater Ministries
The four Archigenitors, patrons of the largest Seer Ministries, bestow the following Attainments on their Prelates.
The Eye (Panopticon) grants the Crown of Vision. When using the Sympathetic Range attainment, the character counts as having a weak Sympathetic connection to any subject she has no connection for. She reduces the effects of Occultation and similar powers by her Space dots.
The Father (Paternoster) grants the Crown of Doctrine. The character adds her Prime dots to her Gnosis to determine her Mana pool, and may heal resistant damage by Pattern restoration.
The General (Praetorian) grants the Crown of Fury. When attacked by a character using a Style Merit, the Seer may reduce each of her opponent’s Fighting Style Merits by her Forces dots, denying the use of any techniques “lost” by instinctively countering them. Also, she does not spend Mana to raise or change her Mage Armor.
The Unity (Hegemony) grants the Crown of Obligation. The character gains an additional Vice, and regains one point of Mana every time she gains Willpower through either Vice.
Other Exarchs’ Crown Attainments may be designed by the Storyteller.
Mystery Commands (Persistent)
Your character hears the voice of the Exarchs, sees their words scrawled in her mind, and otherwise receives commands from deep within her Oneiros. Her Exarch’s will becomes an additional Obsession, with all according benefits.
The Storyteller will occasionally give commands as part of this Merit. Additionally, your character can take actions in the name of her Exarch and reverse-engineer messages out of the context. Most any action that aligns with her Exarch’s basic whims should apply to this Condition.
Resolution: Your character cuts off ties to her Exarch. Traitors are not tolerated, and other characters with this Condition will be sent to punish her, or kill her if she will not return to the Throne’s service.
Arcane Beat: Your character faces meaningful setback, danger, or sacrifice on account of the commands.
Seers of the Throne Preview
Without me rambling on any further, here’s the preview of the Seers pages, plus the Seer material from the Setting chapter, that I’ve put here for your reference.
Next on the blog… it’s with mixed emotions that I say that the next blog will be the last. It is the end, but the moment has been prepared for, and long dreamed of. It’s time to discuss Ascension.