Thursday, 14 July 2016

Cover to Cover: Mage the Awakening Supernal Lore (part one)

Starting with the latest part of fiction, this chapter deals with character generation and we finally encounter the door and the sense that things are lurking beyond it.

Moving on we start the chapter with a quote from one of my favourite films, Dark City, which is a nice touch. After that, we get into character creation, which happily starts with the reaffirming that Mages are human, not from the planet Zog. Starting with concept and Aspirations, things that you want to achieve in play for your character (not things that your character will want, necessarily, but that the player wants their character to experience).

After this, we move onto the Attributes and Abilities, which are all pretty much as I remember them. I'm still glad that Appearance vanished with the Classic World of Darkness, not because I dislike it as a concept but because I don't think character's looks should matter that much (and I always feel it was only ever included because VtM's Nosferatu had Appearance as a 0. We also get to select skill specialities that serve as focuses for the character, The blank character sheet is here.

For example, I fancy putting together a character who's an Antiquarian, someone who has a small shop in Birmingham's back streets, up in the Jewellery Quarter, and who specialises in silverware. He inherited the business from his Father, who had it from his Father and so on. Albert, the character, started off taking watches apart in the back of the shop in the 1970s, and he's pushing 50 before he gets within an inch of Awakening. I'm picturing Albert as a cautious man, one who is rather fussy and old fashioned, who has always been trapped, though he doesn't know it. He inherited the trap, and has maintained it.

I decide on the following Aspirations:

  • Positively, I want him to grow in power, gaining influence among the Mages in the city. 
  • Secondly, I want him to get a Familiar. 
  • Last I want to see him lose the things that he holds dear, being forced to change beyond all recognition as his world is taken from him.

With that in mind, let's consider the Attributes. There are 9 in total, divided two ways - first into Power, Finesse and Resistance, and also into Mental, Physical and Social. This leaves us with Intelligence Wits, and Resolve, Strength, Dexterity and Stamina, and finally Presence, Manipulation, and Composure. The game gives the player 5/4/3 points to spend however they want and there's a free point in each of the Attributes.

For Albert, I think he'll be fairly social and mental, with the physical side of things lagging, so I prioritise the three groups, putting mental first, he's had lots of experience with puzzles and appraising items, which seems to nod to that idea. Social comes second, Albert can be distant but he's been around people a lot and knows what makes them tick. Last, physical, with most of the points going into Dexterity.

In the end, I plump for Intelligence at 3, Wits at 2, Resolve at 3, Strength 1, Dexterity 3, Stamina 2  (Albert isn't a guy to have in a fist fight obviously), while his social stats shape up at Presence 2, Manipulation 2, and Composure 3 (this last has been hard won by facing down robbers).

Skills, here I have 11/7/4 points to spend with no free points. Prioritising Mental skills, I add the following skills: Crafts 3, Investigation 3, Science 2 (specialising in metallurgy, corrosion and restoration) for 8 points. I throw in a point in Academics, a point in Computer, and one in Occult to round him out a bit more.

With Physical skills, well I don't feel he should have that much going on here. I throw a point into Drive, and one into Brawl (a legacy of his youth though he hasn't fought for years), before putting two into Firearms, for the naughty gun he keeps under the counter, just in case.

Social skills, by default, get 7 points spent on them. I go ahead and put three into Persuasion (haggling mostly), I add 2 to Socialise and put one in Subterfuge and Empathy to round him out a bit. He's not a saint but he's not truly practised at lying or at being empathetic to his fellow man's problems.

Adding some skill specialities, I throw clockwork in for Crafts, research in for Investigation and leave it there, I don't feel he's that rounded to be honest.

Next, we apply the Mage template. Given what we've already established, Moros feels like a natural fit for the Path, and while I really like the idea of adding him to a Nameless Order (perhaps a Jewellers Guild based in the north of Birmingham), to stick with what exists in the corebook I plump for the Mysterium. So he's got a focus on Matter and Death, and is part of the Order that's basically a group of librarians and archivists - which seems to fit him quite well.

I decide that his Nimbus smells of dust and decay (but a dry decay, not the wet rawness of food rotting, but of paper and libraries in a state of bad repair).

I opt to take a lead coin for his magical tool

With his Arcana, I sink three points straight into Matter and two into Death, as that seems to fit his character concept and add a dot in Time, as again that seems to tie in with who he is. Again he'll need to invest in some allies to help out if he gets into a scrap. I can't put a point into Spirit because of him being Moros (despite the fact that Death governs ghosts so he has a foot in that world already). In addition, I can add three rote skills from my Order, the Mysterium, so these are Investigation, Occult and Survival.

I'm going to leave it there and come back to this - mostly because I'm finding navigating the PDF very difficult. This is a point against the game, I'm afraid.