Reaching the Next Level [Mage: The Awakening]


Early in the discussions around a new edition of Awakening‘s ruleset, the team expressed a desire to tidy up some of the exceptions and secondary effects built into the system – things like Sympathetic casting, Aimed Spells, Spell Triggers, Counterspell, Summoning. Anything that was magical, but didn’t strictly speaking follow the magic rules.

Some of them – like aimed spells, and the effects of High Speech and runes – have been folded into our Yantra and Spell Factor systems. Mage Sight is no longer a spell but a key part of the mage template, like the shapeshifting rules in Werewolf.

If you’ve played first edition Awakening, you’ll be familiar with all the things that require certain Arcanum ratings. These made up the largest set of secondary rules we had, and laying them all out in a list it became very clear that there was almost one for every dot of every Arcanum.

So, naturally, we decided to write new ones for the handful of dots that didn’t have associated effects, and organize them all into one section of the book. They’re not exactly the same thing as the powers gained through Legacies, but they’re still powers mages get as they become more experienced, as a consequence of raising one of their two magic traits. So they’re still “Attainments.”

Unlike Legacy powers, these Attainments don’t have costs. You get them when you buy Arcanum dots. Because of that, they’re one of the things that distinguishes mages of different ranking. When writing the Attainments, we had to bear in mind that a character will almost always get the first two with any Arcana they have, while the fourth-dot ones represent being an Adept.

While we’ve severely dialled back on how many spells cost Mana, Attainments use it quite a bit. They’re not the largest source of expenditure, though – that would be Mage Sight.

And, as they’re the most-requested spoiler, here’s a list.

First Dot: Counterspell

As in first edition, mages who see other mages casting spells can attempt to Counterspell if they know the correct Arcana. As second edition doesn’t divide spells as covert or vulgar, you can attempt to counter any spell, as long as you have Active Mage Sight up to see them cast. Countering uses the Clash of Wills rules you might be familiar with from other second edition games, and costs Mana if the mage you’re countering has a higher Arcanum rating than you.

Second Dot: Mage Armor and Lesser Utility Attainments

We’ve gone back and forth on Mage Armor in writing and redlines, trying to find a happy level of expenditure and protection; we had weak mage armor you could spend Mana on to make strong for a scene, but that proved both fiddly and terribly difficult to balance different Arcana against one another. The version we’ve got now costs one Mana per scene, but is pitched to be worth it, mechanically. Every Arcanum has a different Mage Armor, useful in different situations. For example, Death Armor makes the mage react to damage like a vampire, downgrading wounds to bashing, while Time Armor adds to your Defense and you can spend Mana on a successful dodge to reduce your opponent’s Initiative.

The Lesser Utility Attainments contain some long-term players will recognize, like Sympathetic Range and Hung Spells. Some used to be spells, like Universal Counterspell for Prime. Some, like Death and Spirit, allow the mage to see things in the appropriate form of Twilight when using their Mage Sight. We’ve used the remaining ones for balance tweaks to some of the Arcana – the Matter 2 Attainment means Matter spells don’t require Reach to use Advanced Duration.

Third Dot: Targeted Summoning

All mages can summon Supernal Entities once they become Disciples. Summoning was first described in the sourcebook “Summoners,” but in second edition it’s made it into the corebook as a template ability. This Attainment means that, for example, an Obrimos who has Mind 3 can summon angels who have Mind as their secondary Arcanum.

I should note that this isn’t summoning ghosts, goetia, or spirits – those are still spells.

Forth Dot: Greater Utility Attainments

The majority of the new powers we’ve invented for second edition come here, extrapolated from the two we already had. Unbound Fate was a power Fate Adepts had in first edition where they could Counter unwanted changes to their destiny; converting that into second edition’s Counterspell mechanics means it becomes a Clash of Wills, and that got us thinking about what other Arcana could allow you to Clash. We also had some systems that we didn’t want to keep as spells, the Prime (pun intended) example being Imbue Item. Making Imbuing an Attainment rather than a spell has allowed us to design a proper system for it that uses extended actions, as it was one of the most confusing aspects of the previous rules.

Here’s the Death one:

Death: Inviolate Soul

The soul of an Adept of Death is almost impossible to affect, let alone harm or dislodge. The mage can reflexively repel deleterious magic that will or could harm her soul.

System: The mage can reflexively use this attainment under the following circumstances:
— Her soul is being tampered with or attacked.
— Something attempts to alter or influence her Nimbus or aura.
— A ghost attempts to use its powers with her as the target.

Using Inviolate Soul requires that the player spend a point of Mana. The character enters a Clash of Wills (p. XX) pitting her Gnosis + Death against the Gnosis + Arcanum of the incoming spell (if the incoming effect is not a spell, use the appropriate dice pool).

The mage needs only the Death Arcanum to counter the attack. She doesn’t need to know all the Arcana involved in the attacking spell.

Fifth Dot: Create Rote

We’ve talked about the benefits of rotes in previous blogs, and as in last edition, Mastery gives the ability to create them. Rote creation is an extended action costing an Arcane Experience once successful. Once the mage has the rote, she can teach it to other mages directly or scribe it into a Grimoire with a Prime spell.


28 responses to “Reaching the Next Level [Mage: The Awakening]”

  1. Vampire Fan Avatar
    Vampire Fan

    Mage the Awakening 2nd edition sounds better and better.

    I hope it’s release date is soon

    1. joe Avatar

      Me too, as I’ve already started my game. I have awakenings planned for a few sessions out, so I think I’ll be okay, but I’m chomping hard.

  2. Full Time GM Avatar
    Full Time GM

    Thank god, everything is going to be properly organized and collected. I used to have a dozen book marks in my Mage corebook to flip between all of the Arcana specific sub-systems.

  3. branford Avatar

    Has 2e eliminated the mechanism to easily permit always-on daily Mage Armor? That would certainly leave 2e mages more vulnerable, particularly to surprise attacks.

    If you’re willing to pay the mana cost, do Mage Armor Attainments stack, or would additional effects require casting a spell in the relevant arcana?

    1. Juhn Avatar

      “Has 2e eliminated the mechanism to easily permit always-on daily Mage Armor? That would certainly leave 2e mages more vulnerable, particularly to surprise attacks.”

      Going by “The version we’ve got now costs one Mana per scene”, I’d say the answer to that question is “yes”. Mage Armor is for scenes where combat is actually likely.

    2. Andrew Thomas Avatar
      Andrew Thomas

      You could probably Fate your way out of those situations, as mid to high level Fate spells will likely give you enough lead time to ready a defense.

    3. Eolirin Avatar

      Well, it’s not a spell anymore, so all you have to do is spend the mana and it should be active. So you can’t get caught flatfooted, well, past the first round anyway, but it’s more expensive if you have multiple combat scenes in a single session.

    4. joe Avatar

      Looks like it and i say good. 1st ed mages after more than a few sessions of play basically had the “5/5 armor” quality 24/7 unless you intentionally chose to weaken your character. I like this a lot better.

  4. Grunt Avatar

    Having unique aspects for each arcanum’s mage armor sounds ridiculously cool.

    Though I have to wonder if its possible to have 2 mage armor’s up, if you have the Mana to spare for it?

    Or would you be forced to use combined shielding spell that mimicks the attainment?

    1. Dave Brookshaw Avatar
      Dave Brookshaw

      By default, you can only have one Mage Armor up, but can swtch between them reflexivly by spending Mana, so if your opponent surprises you with an unexpected supernatural power after you’ve got an armor on, you can flip to your best defense.

      When fighting mages, try to get the drop on them. And hope they don’t know Time.

      1. branford Avatar

        Do you need to spend mana for each armor switch, or just one for each arcana used in the scene.

        For instance, if are using Death armor, switch to Matter, and go then back to Death, would it cost 2 or 3 mana for the activation and switches? Thanks.

  5. Jesuncolo Avatar

    About Grimoires. Will scribing rotes on a grimoire still remove the rote from your list of known rotes, or what else?
    Because losing a rote to write it in a Grimoire sounded really bad to me and I don’t know who would be that stupid to learn the rote to lose rotes and put them in a grimoire.

    1. Dave Brookshaw Avatar
      Dave Brookshaw

      Scribe Grimoire does not remove the rote from the caster.

  6. Solar Avatar

    Sounds pretty cool! I like that the Practises mean that casting spells for all the Arcana follows a nice universal system for capability (as controlled in power by Reach) and that the Attainments from Arcana then add some differentiation between Arcana back in. Having two dots of an Arcanum lets you do the same thing, but it may protect you from physical damage in very different ways. Very nice!

  7. Andrew Thomas Avatar
    Andrew Thomas

    Well, at least you aren’t spending an inordinate amount of time waiting to codify Rotes, at least, unique Rotes. I just hope their entries are written similarly to the way Rites are in W:tF 2.0.

  8. Hiram Alem Avatar

    this keeps getting better and better. So, any love for a fellow Pshychonaut here? Could you, pretty please spoil Mind 2 or 4 attainments?

    1. Mrmdubois Avatar

      Going from the info the Mind 4 attainment probably activates if someone attempts to muck with your mind or an astral/goetic entity uses any power on you.

  9. Murder_of_Craws Avatar

    Wow, that is amazing. It makes the arcana fell so very symmetrical.

  10. nifara Avatar

    Is Alchemy an attainment? It’s one of my favourite lesser-used subsystems.

  11. The Kings Raven Avatar
    The Kings Raven

    A quick suggestion:

    Since the sample Death Attainment explicitly calls out Ghosts; I’d suggest mentioning the Clash of Wills dicepool for Ghosts.

    1. joe Avatar

      If it works the same way all other hings do for such beings, you’ll be looking at power+finesse. .

  12. Dani Avatar

    I cannot -wait- to see Mage 2E come out. Here’s keeping my fingers crossed we’ll see more material coming out soon.

  13. Michael Singer Avatar
    Michael Singer

    If the 4dot Arcanum Attainment shields against soul tampering, I wonder if the “Armo of the Soul” spell (Prime 3) went Way…

    1. Deranged Platypus Avatar
      Deranged Platypus

      I would assume so. From previous spoilers, it sounds like all soul related effects are being moved to the Death Arcanum.

  14. Sir Phobos Avatar
    Sir Phobos

    This looks great! It will make easier to manage spells.

  15. Tambov Avatar

    How does Inviolate Soul interact with stuff you want to happen, especially Soulstone creation?

    1. Dave Brookshaw Avatar
      Dave Brookshaw

      Can reflexively” does not mean “always”. You can choose to let effects in if you want them to happen.

  16. Deranged Platypus Avatar
    Deranged Platypus

    In 1ed, the Mind Arcanum had both the Mental Shield and Misperceptions mage armors that protected from mental and physical attacks, respectively. Will 2ed have both as mage armors or only one of those?