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 Mage Specific Backgrounds

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PostSubject: Mage Specific Backgrounds   Tue Feb 05, 2013 5:48 pm

Arcane
Mages walk the edge of what normal people consider reality. Because of their magical nature, they sometimes escape the notice of Sleepers. Their very existence is an anomaly, and some of them just evade notice. This effect manifests differently for different mages. Although the Arcane Background doesn't make mages invisible, it makes them less noteworthy. An Arcane mage seems nondescript and not particularly noticeable. Features just seem to slip away from memory, and the mage just never seems to get caught on film. Records disappear, people forget the mage's name or even assume that discussions are about someone different, and witnesses can't garner more than "That guy. Girl. Whatever." The mage doesn't trigger these effects actively; they just happen. The mage can, however, consciously dampen the effect and allow others to see her as she truly is. You add your character's Arcane score to any Stealth rolls you make, and your opponents reduce their Perception or Investigation dice pools by a number of dice equal to your score in Arcane. Note that Arcane only helps when the mage is inconspicuous or absent; if the character is screaming, waving around a sword, or otherwise drawing attention to herself, Arcane doesn't help. Of course, people might give conflicting descriptions later or be hard-pressed to remember her name. When your character is directly involved in combat, this Trait gives her no benefits. Note also that a character with specific, extremely unusual traits -- like purple hair, a peg leg, or huge size -- won't be able to conceal those traits; they stand out too much in peoples' minds.

x You're just as noticeable as anybody else.
· You blend in with the crowd.
· · You're easy to forget.
· · · You're difficult to follow.
· · · · There are scant photos, papers, or records of you, and people can't even agree on what you look like.
· · · · · In other people's minds, you don't even exist.

ST WARNING: This background works against sleepers that the mage might wish to become allies with


Avatar
All mages have an Awakened Avatar, and through that Avatar the mage alters reality. However, not all Avatars affects her Quintessence score directly. It also determines how much Quintessence your character can reabsorb at any one time. It's wise to put at least one dot in this Background. Mages with extremely weak Avatars can't channel Quintessence at all, which can make many magical feats difficult or impossible. Whenever your character's Quintessence score drops below her score in this Trait, she can meditate at a Node, for at least one hour, in an attempt to rebuild her Quintessence levels. You roll a dice pool based on Meditation (Perception + Meditation; difficulty 7) for each hour spent at the Node, and the number of your successes determines how much Quintessence she regains. No matter how many successes you roll, however, your character can't reabsorb more Quintessence than the number of dots you placed in her Avatar Background. Her Avatar score serves as a ceiling to the Quintessence points she can soak in through meditation at a Node. The Avatar rating is also the limit to the amount of Quintessence that a mage may channel for an Effect. A mage can't channel more Quintessence than her Avatar rating, so mages with weak Avatars are limited to smaller Effects. Quintessence stored in the Avatar is "personal" and inviolable; it can't be taken from the mage with Prime magic. Note that the role of the Avatar may vary with the Storyteller's slant on the game, and as such this Background may be changed to represent other powers.

x Your Avatar is barely capable of magic.
· May rebuild a pool of/expend one Quintessence.
· · May rebuild a pool of/expend two Quintessence.
· · · May rebuild a pool of/expend three Quintessence.
· · · · May rebuild a pool of/expend four Quintessence.
· · · · · May rebuild a pool of/expend five Quintessence.



Destiny
Some mages -- or even Sleepers -- stand out heroically, pulling the threads of the Tapestry around them as they charge blindly on to an undeniable destiny. The fate of such a mage is generally known, though in a vague way. A prophecy, a vision, or even just a "sense of greatness" follows this sort of mage. Her fellow mages sense this fate, as does she. Although none of the characters will know the exact nature of her fate, you should work it out behind the scenes with your Storyteller, or have your Storyteller determine it for you secretly. This final fate should remain mysterious -- an enigma -- within the context of the story. The knowledge that she'll go on to do great things gives your character a stronger sense of purpose and, thus, it increases her ability to exert her will. She knows that she won't die an ignominious death and this knowledge gives her the courage to go on when times get rough. Once per story (not each game session), if your character faces an end that goes against her destiny, you may roll her Destiny score versus a difficulty number of 8. Each success you roll allows you to regain one spent Willpower Point. You may use these points to help your character avoid a cheap death. Destiny steps in and helps your character when she needs it the most. However, your Storyteller may decide, at any tine, that the danger your character faces meets the criteria of her destiny and disallow you any special saving rolls. Your character's fate, in this case, has come calling and she must survive on her own or fulfill that destiny. A mage can fulfill his destiny, and at such a time, the Background goes away. The fulfillment of the destiny usually culminates in some large change for the character's life, though. Conversely, an otherwise mundane person may suddenly discover a powerful destiny. The course of fate is fickle indeed, and even mages can't see the future with total certainty.

x You're just a tar-heel like everyone else.
· A minor destiny; roll one die.
· · An impressive destiny; roll two dice.
· · · A crucial destiny; roll three dice.
· · · · A world-changing destiny; roll four dice.
· · · · · An earth-shattering destiny; roll five dice.



Dream
With the Dream Background, your character has the ability to meditate and tap into the wealth of information carried within the universal mind. She must focus on a particular problem while meditating, and the amount of time it takes her to glean the information will vary based on its complexity. This process has is drawbacks. She may not get exactly what she wanted, but instead may find herself possessing an intuitive understanding that she didn't expect. The universal mind knows better than she does what will help her, but that doesn't mean she'll figure out why this particular bit of information applies to her dilemma. Furthermore, she only has access to the information until she sleeps again. Once she sleeps, the knowledge flies out of her mind and she loses access to it. Your Storyteller may ask you to roll Perception + Dream to see how well your character can focus and reach a meditative state. Each character will have her own unique way of bringing forth the dream. It doesn't have to be sitting in a full lotus with incense burning. Some take long walks by the beach or vegetate to rock music. Whatever method your character uses, she must have no interruptions for the amount of time the Storyteller determines necessary. The information your character receives isn't concrete information, but rather an intuitive, guiding sense about something. She can't find a person's address this way, but she can sense that the person probably lives near the river, for example. Roll your character's Perception + Dream (difficulty 6) to determine to what extent the information she receives is helpful. Once per day, after your character has meditated successfully, you can substitute her Dream score for an Ability in a dice roll pertaining to the topic of her meditation. This applies whether she has the Ability or not. For example, if she's seeking some insight into her friend's emotions, you can roll Intelligence + Dream instead of Intelligence + Alertness, even if your character has no Alertness score. If she does have an Alertness score, you can substitute, if you choose. However, you can't add her Dream and Alertness scores. You roll either one or the other.

x The collective intuition of the cosmos is a mystery to you.
· You catch hazy bits of information.
· · You gain helpful insight.
· · · You can access worthwhile lore.
· · · · You glean a wealth of knowledge.
· · · · · You make amazing leaps with your insight.



Familiar
Mages with this Background have a familiar, an intelligent creature of spirit-made matter which is magically bonded to the mage. But just as the familiar is bonded to the mage, so too is the mage bonded to the familiar. The relationship between a mage and her familiar varies widely, but the relationship itself is an extremely powerful tie (see the rules for familiars for further information). The familiars of different Traditions tend to vary in form. The familiars of Verbena are often cat-creatures, while the familiars of the Dreamspeakers are more often eagles, hawks, other birds, or snakes. The Sons of Ether imbue golems with the spirits of familiars, while some Hollow Ones have been known to take sewer rats or stray dogs as familiars. The Virtual Adepts, it's said, even make familiars out of their computers. Regardless of their form, familiars provide their mages with information and even abilities beyond those the mage can attain alone. The exact nature of these powers varies with the familiar. In return, familiars determines both the amount of power and information it can confer to the mage and the amount of Prime energy it must be fed weekly. If it doesn't receive sufficient "food," the familiar may become disgruntled and leave. If a familiar breaks its bond, that mage loses all the benefits the familiar conferred. A mage whose familiar dies immediately loses an amount of Quintessence equal to twice the power level of their familiar, as well as all the abilities conferred by the familiar. Mages with this Background are assumed to have already called their familiar or have used the Life Effect of Imbue Flesh to create one.

· Familiar can eat one point or Paradox per month. Familiar has access to a few pieces of information. Requires one point of Quintessence per week.
·· Familiar can eat one point of Paradox every other week and has access to noteworthy pieces of information. Requires two points of Quintessence per week.
··· Familiar can eat one point of Paradox per week, knows a great deal about Esoteric subjects, and is considered equivalent to a one dot Mentor. Requires three points of Quintessence per week.
···· Familiar can eat two points of Paradox per week and is considered a two-dot Mentor for study purposes. Requires four points of Quintessence per week.
····· Familiar can eat one point of Paradox per day and has a vast wealth of information, equivalent to a three-dot Mentor. Requires five points of Quintessence per week.



Node *requires ST approval*
One of the most hotly contested prizes I the war between access to a place of power were she can replenish her Quintessence and gather Tass. Your Node can be located -- in a cellar, a high-rise, a grove, a glade, a crystal cave, or an old church -- but mages protect them like the treasures they are. Quintessence thieves may attempt to overthrow the current custodians of a Node and take the location for themselves. Your character may have to fight to keep her Node. You and your fellow players can pool your characters' Node scores to increase the value of one particular Node rather than having several small ones scattered around the area. The Node's rating determines how much Tass the place produces and how much "free" Quintessence a character can absorb from it per week. Your character can stockpile Tass, but the magical energy may lose its potency after a short time if not used. The form this Tass takes reflects the nature of the Node. If the Node is in a cemetery, the Tass may take the form of grave moss that your character will have to boil down to remove the Tass. Or, if the Node sits in a cave by the ocean, the Tass may take the form of salt-like deposits that your character will have to gather up and sift out to separate sand and silt. The Quintessence available from a Node counts for all uses of absorption. Thus, characters who meditate to refresh their Avatar rating must draw on the Node and deplete it, and the Node may temporarily run out of power. The exact amount of power that a Node holds is up to the Storyteller. For a game with scarce magic, a Node might only supply one point of Quintessence per week per dot, while a more generous Storyteller might give ten points per week per dot. The higher the rating of the Node, the more energy it holds, and the weaker the Gauntlet in its location.

x No access to a Node.
· A minor Node, barely worthy of mention.
· · A small Node, holding a useful trickle of energy.
· · · A significant Node, able to power several mages.
· · · · A major Node, hotly contested.
· · · · · A powerful Node, one of the few sites of magic left on Earth.



Sanctum
"Sanctum" is a general term for a place where a mage "sets" reality to her paradigm, shaping it to her will. This Background provides a safe place to experiment -- a spot protected against mundane intrusions or, to a degree, Paradox. Sanctums aren't Horizon Realms or Chantries. They exist in consensual reality, although they have some amount of privacy and protection. Sanctums can vary from dungeons filled with weird science contraptions to a Verbena's cottage still room, from uptown apartments filled with alchemical and academic regalia to out-of-the-way chapels frequented by believing Sleepers. Sanctums contain many of the bulkier foci that a mage might use -- cauldrons, summoning circles, alchemy gear, or clone tanks. These foci serve a dual purpose: Assisting the mage with her work and helping her maintain the integrity of the Sanctum. This stock of foci can be rather unusual -- herbs, devices, offerings, ancestral bones, hallucinogens, and special musical instruments are a few examples. Setting up a Sanctum requires some prep time. The mage selects a suitable place, stocks it, and enacts her will upon it in some fashion. Dreamspeakers may perform a spirit-summoning rite; Ecstasy Cultists might share a visionquest; a Verbena might cast protective wards, while a Batini might pray Allah's blessings on the place. New mages can inherit a Sanctum from their mentors or share a communal circle. The details should be decided by the Storyteller and players. Because the mage has "set" the reality within a Sanctum to coincide with her own beliefs, magic often considered vulgar is considered coincidental in a mage's chosen Sanctum. This allows her to roll her straight Arete when using magic, regardless of its "vulgarity." Paradox is likewise figured as if an effect cast in the Sanctum were coincidental. Sanctums also reduce magic difficulties if a mage takes her time, grant a temporary point of Arcane within the Sanctum, and make some helpful skills possible. These effects last indefinitely, so long as the mage periodically "re-sets" the room's paradigm. Though these benefits apply only inside the Sanctum, fighting a mage on her home ground is a dangerous task. Many esoteric supplies can be kept or grown in a Sanctum -- potions, minerals, and metallic ores, animal components (raven's claws, rabbit pelts, goldfish, and white mice), musty tomes, strange bubbling serums, or whatever fits. The source of these components can be anything from a classic witch's garden to a junior high school science lab "gifted" by student discoveries. Mages of all types sharpen their concentration with proper "trappings." These usually depend on the type of Sanctum. Sanctums may only encompass a room or two -- no more than 200 square feet or so. Different Traditions are at a -1 to use each other's "workspace" due to minor paradigm differences. Some mages may not use others' Sanctums at all -- a Son of Ether won't have much use for an ancestral burial mound. Sanctums are rated by their stock of supplies, their effect on magic roll difficulties, and the Arcane the owner gains when "home."

· Barely adequate stock; no reductions for difficulties, although the owner's magic is all coincidental here. One point of Arcane.
·· Small stock; difficulties reduced by 1. Two points of Arcane.
··· Average stock; difficulties -2. Three points of Arcane.
···· Good stock; difficulties -3. Four points of Arcane.
····· Excellent stock; difficulties -4. Five points of Arcane.



Wonder
Wonders are objects like Talismans and Technocratic Devices that have power and that produce magical Effects (usually when wielded by an Awakened being, such as a mage). Although they're rare, a few lucky mages have objects that carry their own power; legend holds that Masters can even manufacture their own. For the most part, only an Awakened being can use a Wonder, although your Storyteller may make exceptions to this rule. Your Storyteller may also limit the number and/or power of the Wonders that she'll allow into the game. Any item can be a Wonder if it has somehow been imbued with magic. Tree branches, mechanical devices, jewelry, wands, bones, and stones can all suffice as magical items. When triggered, Wonders produce magical Effects just like mages do. Each Wonder has a special purpose. A Wonder's Effect comes from one of the magical Spheres, and you determine with your Storyteller exactly what occurs each time that your character triggers the item. Sometimes, it may misfire or the Effect may not turn out exactly as your character intended, but for the most part, your character has an idea of what to expect. When creating a Wonder, you also determine what exactly each of its Effects does. You base these effects on the magical Spheres. You may choose the Sphere that represents the Effect, but the Effect is limited to a Sphere level equal to the level of the Wonder. Note that the level in this Background doesn't correspond directly to the level of the Wonder possessed. A Wonder is rated by the power of is Spheres, but the level of this Background simply indicates a general categorization of the Wonder's powers. A Wonder may have an Arete rating that allows the holder to use the Wonder's score when rolling for its Effects, and it may store its own Quintessence. Some Wonders, called Periapts, are little more than Quintessence batteries. Others simply have one magical Effect that's always on, or that works automatically when called. Spirit Wonders called fetishes, may work differently in story terms, but you purchases them the same way. These objects contain spirits who have, either by force or by choice, entered into the items and who perform a service. Some of these spirits have strong personalities, and they may cause the wielder some frustration and trouble, depending on how the mage treats the spirit. When your character uses up all the Quintessence in a fetish, the spirit departs. Your character can't refuel a fetish though your mage might undertake a quest or deal with a spirit to try to keep a fetish empowered. Many mages use wonders as foci. Although doing so may not make the magic coincidental, it usually helps the mage to focus. Any Paradox triggered by a Wonder's Effect goes directly to the item itself, possibly destroying it. As always, the Storyteller has final say on the potencies and potentials of any Wonder.

x You haven't run across any magical items.
· A Wonder with a trivial Effect, or a small stash of Quintessence.
· · A Wonder with a useful Effect, or a reasonable battery of Quintessence.
· · · A Wonder with a reasonably handy Effect, or a large supply of Quintessence.
· · · · A Wonder with a very useful or commonly used Effect, or a generous helping of Quintessence.
· · · · · A Wonder with an associated potent Effect, or a legendary power source.
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