As mages interact with the Mysteries, their gnosis grows, deepening their understanding of magic and developing into a unique style. In game mechanical terms, exposure to Mysteries earns Arcane Beats and Experiences, which you spend on traits relating to your character’s personal grasp of the Mysteries — Path Arcana, Praxes, and Gnosis.
If Order represents what a character believes the purpose of magic is, and Path provides the foundation of a broad magical style and a set of symbol-association, then Legacy is the combination of both, Gnosis, and Praxes – the capstone on the pyramid of your character’s traits, their specialization as a mage. They also fulfill a social role within the setting — emphasizing the mentor/student relationship, as iconic to sorcerers as creator/childe bonds are to Vampire fiction. Your character doesn’t have to join a Legacy (maybe he wants to create his own!), but they’re important to Mage‘s world; sources of interpersonal contact outside of the confines of cabal and Order for young mages, and the framework for Mentor and (once your characters advance) Student Storyteller Characters.
Ancient Legacies reflect belief structure that have rung true for some mage for centuries, and even contemporary ones represent a very specific worldview developed after careful reflection and self—examination.
Those who share a Legacy belong to an elite and highly specialized clique. Some consist of hundreds of members scattered across the world like members of an especially esoteric social clique. Others boast only a few dozen mages with a belief system others among the Wise find inexplicable if not outright objectionable. For those within one, a Legacy offers a specialized network of social contacts that understand each other better than any other mages do.
To date, 94 Legacies have been published and at least 14 more mentioned but not statted in Mage: The Awakening‘s gameline, including two books which are nothing but Legacies (the Sublime and the Ancient.)
The current edition’s Legacy mechanics are relatively simple – Legacies are linked to a single Arcanum, with a second as optional. You pick a spell from the main and optional Arcana at increments of Gnosis – a 2-dot spell at Gnosis 3, a 3-dot one at 5, and a 4-dot one at 7. You get the main Arcanum as Ruling if it isn’t already, and an Oblation that doesn’t need a Hallow. Simple.
In practice, however, Legacies were a bit trickier to write than they appear. Some broke guidelines on whether the Attainments could stack with the same effect from a spell, others required Mana to use Attainments. The entry requirements of Path and/or Order were not always clear. Most significantly, at least from my point of view, was the demands placed on Mage‘s setting by the Gnosis requirements – if every Gnosis 3 mage needs a Gnosis 5 tutor, and they all need Gnosis 7 tutors, then that says something about the Storyteller characters assumed to be inhabiting the gameworld.
In response, we’ve set out to make the guidelines for constructing your own Legacies much clearer in the second edition core, and lowered the Gnosis requirements for entry. The unwritten rules of Legacy design are now written, and we’ve fully written up one Legacy to show how it’s done.
We can’t possibly convert all 94 Legacies in the second edition core. We can’t even convert five of them with the wordcount we have, although we’ll try to list several to give new Storytellers an idea of the breadth of them.
Path, Order or Praxis: All Legacies possess an originating Path, and many (though not all) are connected to an Order—Pentacle, Seer or Nameless.
Normally, your mage must either belong to the Legacy’s Path or Order. However, it is possible for a mage of any Path or Order to join a Legacy if she learns a Praxis that duplicates the Legacy’s first Attainment, and utilizes one of the Legacy’s Yantras. She develops the understanding to join without other requirements. If your character learns an Attainment duplicating a Praxis (whether she used it as an entry method or not) she receives an Experiences refund, with a bit extra, for the Praxis’ cost. In this way, characters are encouraged to “train” for their future Legacies by specialising in the spells that will become Attainments, or develop their own Legacies out of their personal styles.
Arcane (and Other) Knowledge: Before initiation, your mage must possess at least two dots in the Legacy’s new Ruling Arcanum. She must also possess two dots of Gnosis unless she’s founding her own Legacy, which increases the requirement to three dots.
Legacies also require other forms of knowledge based on their respective theories and beliefs. This normally takes the form of two or more dots in a particular Skill, but Storytellers and Legacy founders may specify additional requirements.
Indoctrination: Finally, each Legacy demands that prospective pupils perform tasks, endure ordeals and otherwise encounter the Legacy’s perspective through direct experience. Even a self-founded Legacy can’t be invented with a mere idea—the mage needs to explore its Mystery through action.
Legacies and Souls
Mages say Legacies change their souls, and this is true after a fashion, but they don’t do it by altering the soul itself. Instead, they alter a sorcerer’s Gnosis and concomitantly, her magical identity. If the mage’s Gnosis is a vessel that holds the waters of her soul, a Legacy changes the vessel’s shape—and the soul changes to fit.
This is an important distinction to note, because this is why soul theft cannot permanently deprive a mage of her Legacy. If a mage loses her soul, any replacement capable of supporting Awakened magic will take the “shape of the vessel,” returning her Legacy’s benefits as soon as she can use magic again.
If removed from its owner, an Awakened soul is not so liquid as to lose all marks of its Legacy. This makes it possible for soul thieves to learn Legacies from stolen souls and soul stones without the owner’s consent.
Tutelage by an existing member (who must have at least the third Attainment) is the most common way to join a Legacy, but mages can also found their own, study a Daimonomikon (a special Grimoire that records Legacies) or study the soul or soul stone of an existing member. The various initiation methods are only required to join the Legacy, not progress in them, although continuing education from a mentor brings other reward, such as a steady supply of Arcane Beats for both mages.
In a change from the previous edition, all Attainments now cost Experiences, with the type of Experience varying according to how you were initiated. We’re still going back and forth about whether forming your own Legacy should require higher Gnosis than joining one you encounter, as it does in first edition, or should be the same Gnosis but have a higher cost.
Legacies and Sympathetic Magic
Legacy members form close ties in part due to their sympathetic bonds. Every Legacy mage serves as a Symbolic-rank Sympathy Yantra for every member of the same Legacy, and all daimonomika and soul stones belonging to that Legacy. Members versed in Space or Time find it easy to communicate and gather, as well as track down errant pieces of their tradition. On the other hand, kidnap a member or steal a book, and you can do tremendous damage to a Legacy.
These bonds can be suppressed with Veiling magic, but it takes Unravelling magic to eliminate them completely.
The benefits of initiation are many, from a connection to other Legacy members to the magical advantages of an altered Gnosis.
Yantras: Initiates learn the Legacy’s Yantras. Most require one turn to deploy and adds +1 to spellcasting rolls. A few add +2 but either impose a disadvantageous Condition or require rare materials, extra time or special care. The required effort is part of the Yantra so sidestepping its disadvantages (by eliminating the stupor created by a drug used as a Yantra, for example) reduces its bonus accordingly.
Oblations: Each Legacy also teaches Oblations that reflect its philosophy and legends. Unlike ordinary Oblations, the mage does not need to perform Legacy Oblations at a Hallow—her soul becomes the “sacred place” being drawn upon. However, a mage away from a Hallow cannot gain more Mana per day than her dots in her Legacy’s Ruling Arcanum.
Ruling Arcanum: Initiation into a Legacy confers an additional Ruling Arcanum, set by the Legacy’s creators. This normally raises an existing Common or Inferior Arcanum to Ruling Status, but in some cases the mage already possesses the Legacy Arcanum as a Ruling Arcanum. In this case, he develops an especially strong understanding of the “doubly Ruled” Arcanum’s Mystery. Every time she learns a new dot in this Arcanum he earns an Arcane Experience.
All Legacies teach special Attainments. The mage invokes them from her reshaped soul instead of reaching into the Supernal. Thus, Legacy Attainments provide the following advantages:
Atypical: Legacy Attainments generally operate according to the Legacy’s traditions, which may slightly limit or expand their scope. For example, a Legacy of fire worshipers may be restricted to heat and fire-based versions of Attainments based on Forces spells. These adjustments shouldn’t make Attainments significantly more or less powerful than they otherwise would be.
Automatic Activation: In most cases, a Legacy Attainment can be activated with an instant action and do not require die rolls. If the Attainment requires spell factors, it automatically confers factors that would impose a penalty up to the mage’s dots in the Attainment’s highest prerequisite Arcanum. If the Attainment would require a measurement of its successes, it automatically scores a number of successes equal to the mage’s dots in the highest prerequisite Arcanum.
For example, if a fire-summoning Legacy Attainment requires spell factors and requires Forces 3, a Legacy member with Forces 5 harnesses spell factors that would normally impose a -5 penalty to die rolls—though remember that you don’t actually have to roll dice.
Immune to Countering and Supernal Dispellation: Legacy Attainments cannot be attacked with countermagic or Supernal Dispellation using the Prime Arcanum. They can be undone based on the specific effect they create, however, but are considered no different than natural phenomena. Forces can snuff out fire made by a Legacy Attainment as easily as it could suppress a similar ordinary fire.
Legacy Wisdom: Using a Legacy Attainment is never considered an act of hubris; the mage’s mystic self is completely attuned to their use.
Mana Break: Legacy Attainments issue from the mage’s soul instead of the Supernal Realms, so Mana is only used to reinforce her will, not channel power from beyond. When adapting Attainments from spells, reduce any Mana cost higher than one point to one point.
Optional Effect: Some Legacy Attainments include an additional or alternate effect if the mage possesses dots in an additional Arcanum equal to the required Legacy Ruling Arcanum. This additional Arcanum is almost always a Ruling Arcanum from the Legacy’s originating Path.
Transient Stacking: Legacy Attainments may stack with spells, but only for a short time, and doing so eradicates the spell, as the Attainment’s intuitive, personal nature unravels the spell’s Supernally charged imago. Stacking a Legacy Attainment with a spell causes the spell’s duration to end, as if cancelled, after one turn per dot the mage possesses the spell’s highest Arcanum. For example, if a Perfected Adept with three dots of Life casts a spell that increases his Strength by 3 dots for the day, activating his Attainment to add another 3 dots of Strength increases it by 6 dots, but his spell disperses after three turns.
Transient stacking can only be performed on spells lingering within the mage’s own Gnosis (i.e. those that impose penalties for being actively maintained) and not spells cast by others, relinquished, or bound to enchanted items of any kind.
Learning Legacy Attainments
A mage may either develop Attainments according to the orthodox teachings of her Legacy, or invent novel Attainments based on her personal approach to the Legacy’s doctrine.
Rather than the three tiers of Attainments in the first edition, second edition Legacies provide five tiers. The first attainment (based on a 1-dot spell) comes with initiation, although most characters buy the second attainment at same time;
Arcanum Dot / at Gnosis
1 / 2
2 / 2
3 / 4
4 / 6
5 / 8
As well as their Arcanum requirements, some attainments require skill dots.
Still with me? Okay, then – how about an example. Here’s my favorite Legacy in Awakening, converted to second edition’s rules by Malcolm “monopolising the last few week’s spoilers” Sheppard;
The Eleventh Question
She called it an interrogation but never asked you a thing, though she spoke as if you said exactly what you wanted to hide. You volunteered more to cover your ass and make a new story look consistent with what she already knew, but that just helped her hone her non-questions. You confessed it all, in the end; better the Hierarch than the masked man outside the door.
We’re The Ones Who See
The Eleventh Question credits a 19th Century mystagogue named Lucy Caspian with the core of its philosophy. She said that every Arcanum answered an eternal question so that, for example, Mind revealed the nature of identity and thought; and Matter showed Awakened the truths of tangible, inert phenomena. Yet these were always incomplete answers, and the full Mystery of sorcery, even Ascension, required an Eleventh Question, beyond the domain of the Arcana.
While investigating a haunted estate, ghosts possessed members of Caspian’s cabal and used the victims’ own magic to not only kill each other, but cover it up as an apparent murder-suicide. A Guardian hermit named Sullivan helped Caspian’s protégé Jeremiah Moon uncover the truth, clearing the names of the deceased. Combining Sullivan’s Guardian training with the philosophy Moon had learned under Caspian, the two founded the Eleventh Question and became nomadic consulting investigators. After Moon perished in their last “case,” Sullivan passed the Legacy to three Guardians, then vanished.
Mages accepted the history taught by the so-called “Jeremiad” Eleventh Question until 2008, when mystagogues claiming descent from the “real” Legacy went public, claiming that Caspian had founded the Legacy and taught it to Moon—and that Jeremiah had killed him to claim it. Members of the “Caspianite” line (both lines just refer to themselves as the Eleventh Question, and use the sectarian names for their opponents, while neutral observers use both) even suspect Sullivan arranged for the original estate murders to cover his tracks.
Even before this nasty business, other Guardians of the Veil kept the Eleventh Question at arm’s length due to the unorthodox, even bizarre way they dug up the truth. Now that Caspianites initiate worthy individuals from any Order, Guardians consider the Querents barely trustworthy, though occasionally insightful.
Parentage: Moros, Guardians of the Veil or Mysterium
Background: Many Querents hail from law enforcement backgrounds; a smaller number were mathematicians, priests and philosophers devoted to metaphysical questions. A few Jeremiad Querents were supposedly headhunted from spy agencies. All entered the Legacy with a passion for seeking the transcendental truth behind raw facts.
Appearance: Querents often develop behavioral tics or off-putting habits from stress of their work and a general impatience with the half-truths of ordinary human interactions.
Prerequisites: Time 2, Investigation 2 and one of the following additional Skills at 2 dots or higher: Academics, Larceny, Medicine, Occult, or Science.
Initiation: The prospective Querent must successfully investigate a mystery assigned by her tutor.
Organization: Querents don’t follow any formal hierarchy, though many work in pairs. If more than two gather for any reason, it’s to deal with a Legacy-wide emergency or something really, really strange.
Theory: The Eleventh Question believes that all evidence provides clues to a holistic ultimate truth. Secrets bar the path to enlightenment; they must be exposed to the light of investigation. Yet not everyone deserves enlightenment, so they don’t usually share what they discover with a free hand, though new members from the Free Council have been known to defy the rule of secrecy.
Ruling Arcanum: Time
Yantras: Succeeding on an Investigation roll relevant to the spell (+2); verbally explaining a mysterious phenomenon to a trusted associate (+1); collecting samples or recording information (images, sounds, writings) relevant to the spell—note that the act of collection is the Yantra in this case, separate from possessing an item that might be used for sympathetic magic (+2); using stimulants to stay focused (+1, or +2 if this creates an adverse Condition)
Oblations: Solving a riddle or puzzle; studying esoteric magical theories; pursuing an obsessive or antisocial habit; giving an extended lecture about an intellectually challenging topic.
First: The Undisturbed Scene
Prerequisites: Initiation Requirements
You usually arrive at a location before nature and human hands wipe away evidence. The authorities haven’t arrived yet to destroy subtle information, or they (or someone trying to cover her tracks) didn’t have the opportunity to do a thorough job. The mage gains extra dice equal to his Time Arcanum on one Skill roll to retrieve information from the scene. Within these bounds, the Attainment emulates “Perfect Timing” (p. XX).
Optional: Matter 1
You also may engage Active Mage Sight (Matter) upon arrival. If it must pierce any form of supernatural concealment, it automatically scores successes equal to the mage’s Matter dots.
Second: The Unobvious Answer
Prerequisites: Time 2, Investigation 3
Studying your subject for a turn, you peer into her recent past relayed through telling behavior, minute elements of her appearance and other sensory cues. This is usually used on a person, but may also be used on a location. It duplicates the effects of the “Postcognition” spell (p. XX).
Optional: Matter 2
You may also cause liquid or solid matter that has been diluted or diffused to take the shape it possessed in the past, as long as some residue remains. This might cause wiped fingerprints to reform and washed away blood to pool in its old location. You must touch these spots. This duplicates the effects of the “Shaping” spell (p. XX) and applies to both liquids and particulate matter. You may decide to make the change obvious (by giving a murderer bloody hands) or subtle (recreating a clue for Sleepers who “might have missed it”).
Third: The Chance Answer
Prerequisites: Time 3. In addition to the Investigation 3 requirement from the previous Attainment, the Querent must increase the other Skill she used to meet the requirements of the Legacy to 3, or must attain two dots in a second skill from the list of possible requirements.
Confident that the truth of a thing will be revealed, you query the flow of time to fetch information from a future where it has been revealed. You receive answers to questions that can be answered with “Yes,” “No,” or “Irrelevant” (if the question is somehow nonsensical). This resembles the spell “Divination” (p. XX; cast at +2 Reach, allowing for a greater range of questions) except that you may ask any question which you believe your future self knows the answer to (not counting the predestination paradox created by the Attainment)! If you would not have personally discovered the answer, you will intuit it as “Irrelevant.”
Optional: Matter 3
You intuitively reshape matter into an object relevant to your personal future, particularly if it involves an investigation. This might be the duplicate of a murder weapon, or an item of clothing an important person may be wearing—or a key you need to open a future door. You need matching raw materials but no tools, and from your perspective you might “discover” it. It might become the actual future object, depending on the vagaries of time.
Fourth: The Timely Answer
Prerequisites: Time 4, Investigation 4 and the other Skill requirements of the previous Attainment.
If you possess at least a Representational sympathetic connection to your target, you may predict her possible future actions. This duplicates the effects of the “Prophecy” spell (p. XX).
Optional: Matter 4
You no longer require a Representational sympathetic connection, as Time and Matter conspire to create one for you. Impressions from the past or emanations from the future shape present matter into a Representational strength Yantra.
Fifth: The Penultimate Answer
Prerequisites: Time 5. In addition to the Investigation 4 requirement from the previous Attainment, the Querent must increase the other Skill she used to meet the requirements of the Legacy to 4, or must attain three dots in a second Skill from the list of possible requirements, or two dots in a third Skill from the list.
You project your consciousness forward in time to inhabit a version of yourself from a possible future, for as long and as far forward in time as your Time dots and automatic spell factors will allow (use the spell “Future Legacy” on p. XX to determine how far forward you can go, but you may choose to travel less than the furthest point). After your return, this future may appear. If it does, you may elect to do exactly what you did before with exactly the same results for any action under your control (such as successes on dice rolls), or you may act differently, taking the unpredictable path. You may even avoid that possible future entirely. If you die during the exercise of this Attainment (though not the actual future) you automatically snap back to the present.
Optional: Matter 5.
When the future you experienced comes due, you may add or delete material objects (as per the spells “Ex Nihilo” or “Annihilate Matter” with combined factors equal to the lesser of your Time or Matter dots) from your person or within sensory range to give yourself an advantage. Instead of drowning, you happen to have a rebreather in your coat, or your enemy’s enchanted blade somehow vanishes. Eliminating magical objects costs 1 point of Mana.
A slightly different form to the polling this week, as we’re past due for looking at the final third of character defining options. So we’re going to be talking about the Orders.
My question for you is: Which Order’s writeup do you want to see?