We Can Make The World Stop (Adamantine Arrow) [Mage: The Awakening]


Welcome back, faithful readers!

I knew we’d be over-subscribed for the playtest, but not that I’d be disappointing quite so many people. To try to make up for it, spoilers will continue until morale improves.

First, some music with a very appropriate video, courtesy of the Glitch Mob.

A looooooong time ago on this blog, I described the design process behind second edition’s re-imagining of the Orders. You can read that post, and the first draft of the Free Council, here.

To reiterate what I said in that post, our goals when describing the Orders this time out were;

  • Increase the sense of historicity, relative to first edition.
  • Clarify the nature of the Diamond’s “Atlantean” lineage.
  • Reject the Tier system.
  • Develop the Free Council as a viable sect.
  • Show more mages living outside the Orders, but make it clear that they have numerous disadvantages.
  • Display internal variation.
  • Portray the Pentacle as an Alliance.
  • Let Sleepers glimpse the Orders.
  • Let Sleepwalkers and Proximi in.
  • Show the Orders as mystery cults.
  • The Orders have flaws.

In that post, I said that the tone statement for the Adamantine Arrow is “Challenge is Magical.” That was first described in the Mage Chronicler’s Guide, based on the Order’s presentation in their Order book. That book – like its counterparts for the other Pentacle Orders – really laid a lot of the ground work, such that you should be able to read it with Second Edition eyes and see the same faction being described.

One thing I was particularly keen on in the new splat pages for the Arrow was making it clear that although they’re the most combatative Order, they aren’t a “fighter character class;” the Arrow are defined by striving for worthy goals while operating under restraint of oath and right behavior. All Arrow are willing to fight, save for the Vidantus Heretics shunned for their pacifism, but almost anything can be a battlefield with the right mindset.

Put simply, I wanted an Arrow where a lawyer is just as valid a character as a knight, and I think Neall Raemonn Price, long-suffering Scion Developer and oft-fired freelancer, has delivered.

But you can’t ignore the combat side of the Arrow, either, and that really comes out in second edition’s new version of an old favorite: The Adamant Hand. And there’s another small Merit, too, which answers a rules question at least one commentator has had.

Merit: Adamant Hand (••)

Prerequisite: Adamantine Arrow Status •, (Athletics, Brawl, or Weaponry •••, Special)

Effect: Your character has studied extensively in the Adamantine Arrow martial arts. This allows her to use combat techniques as Yantras for instant spells. When taking this Merit, choose Athletics, Weaponry, or Brawl, which your character must have three or more dots in. This Merit allows use of that Skill in combat as a reflexive Order Tool Yantra, adding dice to a spell cast on subsequent turns, or to a spell cast reflexively in the same turn as the combat action. You may purchase this Merit multiple times to reflect the other styles.

Merit: Fast Spells (••)

Prerequisites: Firearms ••, Time •

Effect: Your character’s Aimed spells streak out with the speed of bullets. Subjects may not apply their Defense against your Aimed Spell rolls unless they use a Supernatural power that allows them to use Defense against firearms.

Adamantine Arrow Preview

And, without further preamble, here is a link to the current draft of the Adamantine Arrow.

See you next week, where we’ll lift the Masques of the Guardians of the Veil.


36 thoughts on “We Can Make The World Stop (Adamantine Arrow) [Mage: The Awakening]”

  1. Is there a specific number of dice that adamant hand adds to spellcasting, or is there a number for “Order Tool Yantra” or something? And while I can totally see the logic of omitting firearms as a valid skill, a part of me remains disapointed.

    I am wary of reflexive spellcasting as its seems like there would be potential exploits.

    I do like making them a bit more rounded than “Combat Mages.”

    • There’s a number for Order Tool Yantras.

      Reflexive spells are still pretty rare, as they were in first ed, and we have firmer guidelines around them.

      • I think the issue is it’s easy to transpose that ‘cast’ two spaces to the left and read ‘or to cast a spell reflexively in the same turn as the combat action.’!

  2. The Adamant Hand is looking pretty cool. I think you got the concept of their ideals extending beyond martial trial right, but it’s also not hard to see where their philosophies are questionable or unflexible – their presentation is delivered in a balanced manner, I’d say.

    My god those Merits though. Me like.

    • Adamantine Arrow*

      I do not know why for the life of me why I wrote the name of their trademark merit instead of the order name. xD

  3. I like the simplified Adamantine Hand, the old one was a bit cumbersome. It does what it needs to do, give the Arrows an edge on magical combat (punch you hard in the face, I get to heal better next turn).

    Guardians next week, can’t wait.

    • I think (based on comments elsewhere) that the Hand’s use in play hasn’t come through clearly, as it’s been a long while since you got the Yantra spoiler and the spellcasting rules aren’t going to be spoiled.

      Mages can use more than one Yantra, but have to spend a turn on each one. The true value of Adamant Hand is that it lets you not skip turns in combat because you’re casting – the Arrow can fight unless he’s actually rolling for a spell, and the fighting *helps* his spells.

      • So, mages cannot attack with Brawl or Weaponry as well as cast a spell in the same turn? Rather, the merit allows mages to employ the Yantra while also engaging in combat until the turn when spell is cast, while other mages cannot do anything other thab build there Yantras during their turn?

        • So Dave can correct me if I got this wrong, but, if the spell can be cast reflexively, anyone can cast it regardless of what action they took that turn (because that’s how reflexive actions work), but an Arrow with Adamant Hand additionally gets an Order Tool Yantra bonus if they were using Brawl, Athletics or Weaponry in combat. And they can count those rolls as adding Order Tool Yantras to a spell as well, if the spell can’t be cast reflexively. Adding a Yantra (beyond the first, I think?) to a spell requires an instant action, and you only get one instant action per turn; if you don’t have Adamant Hand, that precludes making a combat action.

          You still need to take an instant action in order to cast a spell that isn’t reflexive (assuming you’re spending the Reach to avoid ritual time), so even with this merit, you still can’t attack someone (or use a dodge action) and cast the spell on the same turn.

  4. The Arrow is maybe my second or third favorite Order (jockeying with Free Council right under Silver Ladder) and I like what I see here! Nothing radically new, but it definitely makes for a good pitch, whether you’re a newcomer or just weren’t hooked the first time.

  5. I really love the ‘Hubris’ section of the write-up; it really showcases why Mage is a part of the World of Darkness. All of the Orders think of themselves as being noble and enlightened, when many of their members are as trapped by the Lie as any Sleeper. Their failure to uphold their own dogma creates amazing opportunities for stories and characters.


  6. …I’m going to say that my morale isn’t going to improve unless we get a Mage Blog Post everyday this week.

    (Worth a shot, right?)

  7. The document mentions that after 1945, the Arrow decided to never again fight for a side in a war based on temporal ideals, but it says the reasons where because of the scale of the conflict, and the lack of purpose.

    I’m not sure what is meant by lack of purpose. Does this mean WWII was seen as especially divorced from Supernal concerns, relative to earlier conflicts?

    Also, since it doesn’t mention anything about the holocaust, i’m curious if “morality” was specifically *not* one of the considerations that caused the order to say “never again” after WWII.

    Just to be clear this isn’t in any way WWII concern trolling. I’m very interested by what the answer implies about the Adamantine Arrow, either way.

    • Prior to their Great Caucus, the Arrow would enthusiastically Oath themselves to the protection of Sleeper societies much like modern Arrow take on roles like Banner Warden and Sentinel to protect and champion Awakened institutions. You’d get Arrow with Oaths to Fight for Queen and Country, or the Fatherland, and in the two world wars it effectively paralyzed the Order as they spent all their time fighting one another. Their reorganization decided that it was okay for a mage to be invested in a Sleeper institution, but Oaths of service are reserved for the Awakened.

    • Explained in the previous Orders post, linked to in this one, but in brief Awakening’s Orders have never conformed to Hunter’s Tier system and I wanted to make sure my writers got their heads out of “group/local/global” thinking.

  8. I’m kind of wary of the prerequisites for Fast Spells, mostly since costs for picking up a few dots outside of your core competencies is a lot more punishing in 2E. Why should an Obrimos who wants to be handy with thunderbolts have to pick up Time and Firearms?

    I’m not at all convinced those are -bad- prerequisites, I’d just like to know why they’re there and why those instead of others.

    • Firearms is already one of the two skills necessary to aim combat spells (along with Athletics), and would hardly be something outside the wheelhouse of many combat-trained Obrimos (or other Paths), no less at only two dots.

      Similarly, Time 1 is thematically appropriate and reasonable for this very advantageous ability. Time 1 is also useful in it’s own right.

    • Nah, it’s a Merit. “Can cast spells on you from across the world” is a 2-dot attainment. “My lightning bolts are hard to dodge”, when you’ll only *use* it in the sweet spot between “cast” and “has the Reach to just pattern-target”, is a Merit.

  9. I love how the write up shows how the Adamantine Arrow has changed over time. It definitely gives you the idea that the Orders are breathing, changing things, who’s philosophy’s also change with the times as new truths are discovered.

  10. I can’t get past the similarity to “Friendship is Magic”.

    While I agree that the Hubris sections are a great touch, the word itself gets thrown around too much in the text.

    Other than these beefs, I’m loving it. The Arrow seems more inclusive than before while retaining its warrior bent. I’m especially looking forward to the Guardians of the Veilaxy, who I’ve always had a hard time trying to slot into polite Consilia.

    • Hubris is one of the core themes of the game, though, so it seems natural that it comes up a lot. It’s kind of like complaining that the word “alignment” comes up too much in Dungeons & Dragons. Or for that matter, “Dungeon.”

      And I think “X is Y” is probably just an easy to formulate pattern to describe order themes. I doubt any of the devs are part of a secret Bronie indoctrination scheme.

      Otherwise I agree, this looks great.

  11. I now have the image of an Acanthus slinging curses from his guns.

    I like putting more emphasis on “they’re not always literaly soldiers”. It’s actually how I envisioned them since core book however it didn’t come across much in the fluff.

  12. I’m grateful for the Hubris sections of these s write-up. It’s not uncommon too have someone leaf through the Adamantine Arrows book and think they’re all about militaristic fascism, for example. Calling out the flaws, the pitfalls in that line of thinking, for what they are helps a lot to let people know “this is the bug, not the feature. This isn’t the “fascism, yay” splat, it’s “yeah, sometimes this goes down an unfortunate path and here it’s what that might look like.”

  13. I like the retooling of the Arrows, closer to how I always saw the Summer Court from CtL. Growth through challenge and struggle are not exclusive to war. Thyrsos powerlifter, anybody?

    I’m looking forward to creating a Moros Arrow: a Marine sniper who developed PTSD oversees, and Awakened due to pressure from not wanting to admit that he was one of “those guys” who “cracked.” He joined the Arrows because he honestly can’t see life as anything BUT a battlefield now; he works with combat veterans with PTSD, helping them to work through their problems.

      • I was thinking Moros because of the stuff from the preview a while back talking about Moros having trouble letting go of things, with his mantra of, “I’m fine, I don’t need help” being his obsession. But yeah, the whole mental illness thing does tie in really nicely with Mastigos.

  14. The thing that I’ve always disliked about the Arrows, both in the writeup and in how people end up playing them, is that they tend to hilite the Warrior and overlook the Sage. The Arrows are Warrior-Sages, but all too often, they -do- end up being the Fighter Class for most people, who end up playing Marines With Magic.

    In the new Arrow writeup, the thing that I’d like to see more than anything is an acknowledgement that it’s the study of the patterns of conflict in the world that gives them their unique perspective on fighting, not the fact that they have magic. The entire philosophy is designed to define by breaking things down into their atomic parts and looking at the border areas where one thing becomes another.

    But people just ignore that, and point out all the neat fitey things that Arrows get. It’s structured like a military, and they’re played like militants. Even this draft doesn’t give them the feel of a Mystery Cult, they’re just another Cell of Awakened Warriors.

    Yes, Arrows fight. But that’s a side-effect of their praxis, in my opinion, not the default. They see the conflicts in the world, and understanding is enough to learn mastery over a thing.

    Please, please play up the Sage aspects, and downplay the Marines With Magic bits. I will <3 you forever.

  15. doesn’t Adamant Hand effectively bring multiple actions back in second ed, if only in a limited sense? stab+spell?


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