By Bryan Armor, Tim Avers, Steven Michael DiPesa, Lenny Gentile, Bruce Hunter,Conrad Hubbard, Matthew McFarland and Malcolm Sheppard.
2 Mage Storytellers Handbook
CreditsAuthors: Bryan Armor, Tim Avers, Steven MichaelDiPesa, Lenny Gentile, Bruce Hunter, Conrad Hubbard,Matthew McFarland and Malcolm SheppardWorld of Darkness created by Mark ReinHagenStoryteller game system designed by Mark ReinHagenAdditional Writing: Biscuit, Lynn Davis, Sean PatrickFannon, Alejandro Melchor, Kevin A. Murphy, AdamTinworth and David WeinsteinDevelopment: Bill Bridges and Jess HeinigEditing: Janice SellersArt Direction: Aileen E. MilesCover Art: Christopher ShyInterior Art: Jason Felix, Landon Foss, Jeff Holt, LeifJones, Matthew Mitchell, Alex SheikmanLayout, Typesetting & Cover Design: Aileen E. Miles
Mea Maxima CulpaP. David Gill, in addition to being a cool roleplayer
and all-around nice guy, wrote an entire chapter of theGuide to the Traditions for which he wasnt properlycredited. Whoops! Consider this our make-up call.
2002 White Wolf Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without the written permission of thepublisher is expressly forbidden, except for the purposes of reviews and for blank character sheets, which may bereproduced for personal use only. White Wolf, Vampire, Vampire the Masquerade, Vampire the Dark Ages, Magethe Ascension, Hunter the Reckoning, World of Darkness, and Aberrant are registered trademarks of White WolfPublishing, Inc. All rights reserved. Werewolf the Apocalypse, Wraith the Oblivion, Changeling the Dreaming,Werewolf the Wild West, Mage the Sorcerers Crusade, Wraith the Great War, Trinity, Dark Ages Vampire,Victorian Age Vampire, Dark Ages Mage, and The Mage Storytellers Handbook are trademarks of White WolfPublishing, Inc. All rights reserved. All characters, names, places, and text herein are copyrighted by White WolfPublishing, Inc.
The mention of or reference to any company or product in these pages is not a challenge to the trademark orcopyright concerned.
This book uses the supernatural for settings, characters, and themes. All mystical and supernatural elementsare fiction and intended for entertainment purposes only. This book contains mature content. Reader discretionis advised.
For a free White Wolf catalog call 1-800-454-WOLF.Check out White Wolf online athttp://www.white-wolf.com, alt.games.whitewolf, and rec.games.frp.storyteller.PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
ContentsIntroduction: Weaving the Tapestry 4Chapter One: The Craft 8Chapter Two: The Awakened Struggle 42Chapter Three: Awakening the Storyteller 66Chapter Four: Avatars and Seekings 98Chapter Five: Alternative Settings 128Chapter Six: A World of Magic 190
4 Mage Storytellers Handbook
5Introduction: Weaving the Tapestry
This is your book.This is the book that results from a
decade of Mage players and fans, from allof their feedback and ideas, from lots oflate brainstorming nights, change-oversand revisions.
Usually, a Mage game book advancesthe storyline, introduces some additionalcharacter ideas, and maybe gives you some
settings or tools for developing your own stuff. It fitsneatly into the core framework of the game, expandscurrent rules or tweaks a few things to fix them.
Now this book, in conjunction with you, will breakthem all again.
Mage posits a framework a modeling set, if youwill of rules and setting to play a particular form ofgame. Sure, you might bend it a little to play a moreviolence-and-betrayal chronicle, or you could tweak it
and play up a romantic game, but you still have Spheres,Arete, the quest for Ascension, and all that, right? Sowhat do you do if you want to play a game whereeveryone in the world is a mage? Or if you dont like theway the Spheres are defined but you like their imple-mentation mechanic? Or you want to play high-conceptbut cant wrap your brain around philosophy? Its theStorytellers prerogative to spin a game around andchange it into something more enjoyable for the troupe.Thats what this book is about: twisting and turning tomake Mage your own thing.
To that end, this book has clarifications and up-dates on rules, sure. It also presents alternatives to theusual Mage game different ways of looking at chronicledesign and magical systems. More than just presentingoptions, it presents these as inspirations. These areexamples of things you can do, in ways that show youwhat youll need in order to implement them.
6 Mage Storytellers Handbook
The Golden RuleFold, Spindle and Mutilate!
All right, weve tossed the Golden Rule out thereand told you to mess around with rules that make thegame fun. So why, you ask, am I paying for a book thatjust tells me to make up my own rules?
Because rule books are like prefab kits. They con-tain parts that are tested, that generally fit together, andthat usually offer a coherent and internally consistentframework. Instead of having to make up a whole bunchof stuff yourself and test it by trial and error, you gain thebenefit of premade parts. Mind you, you still have to putthem together and you have to make sure you pick theparts that you want to use. Instead of forcing a fit, youwant to put pieces together into a seamless chronicle and the published materials help to do that.
When you want to diverge markedly from thedirection of publications, though, you may find yourselfin empty terrain. Sure, you might have some stuff inmind from a recent movie, or perhaps you want tohybridize some rules. Thats where this book comes in:You can take a look at ways to try out things youvewanted to do but havent put down on paper.
Prepare for ItThe Storytellers Handbook is about preparedness.
You can run great games on the fly, but when you wantto distance yourself from the basic model, you need toput your ideas down in concrete form. This book offersthe inspiration that helps you set down your ownchronicle directions.
In Mage more so than in other games, preparationis key. Its a big universe with many complex rules youll need a bit more than Cliff Notes to make this fly!As you read through this book, interact with it. Askyourself how it might apply to your game. Put stickynotes on the pages with your own ideas and comments.When you dont just read about an idea, but you turn itover in your mind and see what you can do with it, youllnot only give it your own personal spin but youll garnera more comprehensive understanding of it.
So take notes. Class is in session and this is yourtextbookbut its a ride through wondrous realms andthe graduates are all Storytellers with the right stuff.
Whats in It for Me?So how can this book help you make up your own
stuff? Sounds like a contradiction in terms. Yes and no while this book cant be a comprehensive guide to
The pages you hold in your hands are fullof rules, clarifications, suggestions and ad-vice. Indeed, there are hundreds of pages ofthem. Ultimately, however, they are herefor one reason to remind you of thatsupreme guide known as the Golden Rule.Even the authors and developers at WhiteWolf bend the rules, make our own houserules, and wholeheartedly ignore rules al-
together in our efforts to tell stories for our own tabletopgroups. We are constantly adjusting, often on the fly, tomake the game fit the needs of the story instead ofletting the rules of the game dictate the story. As youread these pages, remember that nothing herein isgospel; nothing in here is the right way to do it. Thisbook is just a grand collection of ideas, each presentedin all its raw glory, ripe for you to pluck out and test inyour own games as you strive to tell the best stories youcan possibly give to your troupe. Dive in, harvest thepearls you know will enrich your Storytellers chest oftricks and shuck the shells that strike you as empty intothe discard pile. You will hear a lot of people say thatroleplaying games are not about winning or losing, butthose groups of players and Storytellers that have themost fun really are winning the game, and dont letanybody tell you otherwise. We hope that our ideas willhelp you and your troupe win in your efforts to tellstories that are fun and entertaining for all of you.
Ultimately, the Storyteller should use the rules astools to enhance the fun of the game for herself and theplayers. This does not necessarily mean wantonly aban-doning any rule just because a single player disagreeswith it; after all, the rules are intended to settle argu-ments rather than encourage them. Storytellers whocompletely disregard all of the rules will find themselvesstruggling to keep any sense of order, as players will growconfused and frustrated with no idea of what to expectfrom the game. On the other hand, Storytellers whonever bend on any rule are likely to find the game hasbecome a cage, with the Storyteller and players aliketrapped by the dictates of someone elses idea of whatmakes a game fun. The decision to ignore or change orbend a rule is an ever-present one, but a good Storytellerwill gradually learn when she should stand by the rulesas a method of necessary order and when she shouldoverturn them in favor of story progress. We hope thisbook will help teach Storytellers to make these deci-sions on their own as often as it offers specific decisions.
7Introduction: Weaving the Tapestry
everything, it can help point you in the direction of manydifferent and interesting ideas, and it can give examplesof ways to implement those ideas. Among these pagesyoull find
Chapter One: The Craft. Errata, addenda andanswers to those burning questions and errant loopholesyouve always wondered about. Sure, some rules havehad minor corrections over time. (Nobodys perfect.)Youll find answers to your questions here as well assome ideas on why things were done the way they were.
Additionally, this section includes a boatload ofoptional rules and rules to change around the game. Ifits a rule that would totally alter Paradox, or changeAbilities or alter the Spheres, its in here.
Chapter Two: The Awakened Struggle. Unlikemany roleplaying games, Mage can often seem overlysubtle and abstract. The villain is obscured and may notbe a villain at all when viewed from his own perspective.The various sources of dramatic conflict and the pos-sible antagonists central to Mages metaplot areintroduced here, along with ideas for using them todrive stories and plots.
Chapter Three: Awakening the Storyteller. Ad-vanced advice for Storytellers who want to spruce upthe game or who keep having problems running it.Setting up in advance, advice for quick game solutions,ways to simplify your systems and paperwork. Motives,themes, and methods. Plus a dissertation on the basicsof philosophy and how you can apply that cerebral angleto Mage.
Obviously, if youre running Mage youre probablya pretty advanced Storyteller already. Chapter Threesadvice covers unusual situations, offers a little back-upwhen players get out of hand and shows you how you canbring your game up to speed by combining advance
planning with some quick time-saving templates orpared-down records.
Chapter Four: Avatars and Seekings. Vital to amages magical development is the Seeking, a sort ofmagical mystery tour initiated by a willworkers ownAvatar to goad him toward enlightenment. But how inthe world do you devise and execute one of these strangetrips in a story? This chapter tells you how and producesmyriad ideas for Avatars of all Essences.
Chapter Five: Alternative Settings. From fancifulworlds of magic to spins on the outcome of the Ascen-sion War, this chapter covers several samples ofchronicles that veer far afield from the usual Mage fare.Plus a checklist for making your own chronicles, ideason things you can tweak or change, and a bunch ofmaterial to enhance your specific themes for otherwiseusual chronicles.
If youve been itching to run a Mage game thats aspace opera, or you want to play around with mages ina fantastic setting out of comic books or movies, this isthe place to look. Before the World of Darkness be-comes pass or repetitive, browse through these ideas.Some of them might spark a new direction for yourchronicle or spawn a completely new one.
Chapter Six: A World of Magic. A long, hard lookat crossovers and where mages fit in a unified World ofDarkness and what you want to watch out for! Waysto integrate other game themes and characters. Expand-ing the World of Darkness to encompass other ideasbeyond the core of Mage.
More than just giving you some crossover rules,though, Chapter Six is also a toolkit it examineswhere youre likely to run into problems with mixedvenues and how to address those issues. In some casesthey may not even be problems or may spark new ideas.
8 Mage Storytellers Handbook
9Chapter One: The Craft
Chapter One:The Craft
Running a compelling, engaging Magegame is hard work! The Storyteller you must put a lot of thought intowhat the games about, how to executeit, and which areas of the theme andmood to focus upon. It may not seem likemuch at first, but its a lot to juggle. Doyour Storyteller characters have the right
mindset to capture the games mood? Does Reso-nance really work the way your players all claim thatit does? What the heck was the development andwriting team thinking, anyway?
Lets start small, with the niggling rules, andthen move up to the big time: the assumptionsbehind why Mage not only works the way that itdoes, but has produced the many books it has.
10 Mage Storytellers Handbook
FAQVisitors to the White Wolf website willrecognize questions from the Magegames Frequently Asked Questionsherein. In some cases theyve been ex-panded upon, as necessary. Youll alsofind answers to several other questionsthat may have come up in the course ofa long-term chronicle.
What happened to the numbers onthe book spines?
The numbers on the spines of various Mage: TheAscension books, sort of reminiscent of the Halonumbers from various Nine Inch Nails CDs andvideos, provide a method of keeping track of whichMage books you do and dont have. The numbersexisted in the waaaaaay back very beginning on thefirst books, but theyre not used any more.
In too many cases a spine number wound upbeing more trouble than it was worth. They neverhad much use (I need Mage book #21!) and theycaused some confusion when weird events tran-spired anything from books coming out of orderdue to changing release dates, to books with thewrong numbers!
By the time of the Revised edition, it was clearthat the spine numbers, while perhaps whimsicallyflavorful, didnt serve much purpose yet converselycould cause problems. (Yes, people actually com-plained when a typo led to a duplicated spine numberon one printing.)
Perhaps more noteworthy, some Mage books the Tradition books never had a spine number, sothere was no way to fit them into any sort of compre-hensive list.
This list includes all of them, includi...