Mage: the Awakening
by Frater Grant
I am in the midst of my creative and emotional breakthrough. Because I have spent so long thinking about a few specific ideas, I have quite a vast lake of pure idea. I need to change these ideas into actions. Think the Ace of Swords into the Ace of Wands.
Last night, I had a tarot lesson that has already changed my life and the way that I will be reading the tarot for people in the future. I will expand on this in another post, as I think it deserves it.
I have also realized that something I really really enjoy has been missing from my life- gaming. No, not video-gaming. I hate that shit, unless its with my gameboy, and even then I still really only enjoy a few games. These games are any Zelda, Pokemon, Trauma Center, and Animal Crossing, in case you were wondering. No, the kind of gaming I am talking about is the good, old fashioned table top role playing game. I begun with Dungeons & Dragons of course, but eventually progressed to White Wolf games, as they had a certain flavor that D&D didn’t have. D&D could have been anything I wanted it to be, but my immature mind couldn’t see past the usual hack and slash, dungeon diving chronicles that most people played. WW games were perfect for me- LOTS of reading, story, and awesome powers. The chronicles were character driven, not weapon stat driven. I played Vampire the Masquerade frequently throughout highschool and I knew that I wanted to play more WW World of Darkness games. By the way, don’t worry, I’ll include a short dictionary at the bottom for those who are benign to these acronyms.
I have always wanted to play one of WW’s WOD games called Mage: the Ascension. The reason that I have never purchased a copy or played was that I had always heard it had a horribly broken rules system, and that it was very complicated. This actually drew me in more, but knowing the players in my group would never be able to understand or read that much, I let it go. Until now. I have had this feeling brewing inside of me for sometime now, and I really really really want to play Mage. I could of course settle for a cheaper game, or one that requires less reading, or one that more people know, but due to my circumstances, I think that Mage will fit perfectly into what I need right now. That’s what roleplaying is- a fun way to explore certain sides of yourself.
The only problem to playing Mage is that there are a few different versions. I will try to explain this without getting too much into WW and the WOD, and all of their fucked up bullshit that goes along with it. The Old WOD had Mage: the Ascension. It came in first edition, second edition, and revised. When WW introduced the ‘end’ of that world, they revealed a whole new World of Darkness- and that is where Mage: the Awakening comes in. Therefore, my choice is between M:tAs 2nd Ed., M:tAs Revised, and M:tAw. I have been researching for days and I have decided that the newest of them, M:tAw is the perfect fit. There has recently been a kickstart fund raising program for what is called M20, or Mage: 20th Anniversary Edition. When this editions arrives it will obviously be my first choice, as it will have updated rules and setting, and in essence take the best from both worlds. However, I don’t want to wait what could be over a year for this to become available- its in the early stages of development. Even though the book is completely written, they haven’t commissioned artwork or begun working on layout at all. Therefore, I have decided to go for Mage: the Awakening.
One of the deciding factors for me was the fact that the books, even though a bit more expensive- are easier to find, and I have found a torrent file that has almost every single M:tAw book in existence. The books are also available from DriveThruRPG.com, making them extremely easy to find. I also have a decent laser printer that I can provide a few table copies of the core rulebook. I think for myself that I will begin by purchasing physical copies of these two books and then after reading the PDF’s of some of the more highly acclaimed supplement books, decide if its worth it to either hunt them down on Amazon or eBay, or have them printed through the POD services over at DriveThruRPG.com.
Another huge factor for picking The Awakening was that it had a tarot deck made for it, which is now extremely rare and out of print, and it was complete and workable. By this, I mean that it had 78 cards, and that it could function as an actual tarot deck. This meant that whomever commissioned the deck, likely one of the head writers or even the producer himself, had a good amount of knowledge on the tarot. This, to me, means that they had more ‘real’ magic in them than the original writers. Also, because of M:tAs focus on techno-magic and Matrixy plot lines, it felt a lot more cyberpunky and thought up, whereas M:tAw draws much information from real magick. I use the words magic and magick differently. Magic is illusion. It is fake, fun, whimsical, but most of all, not real. Magick however is used to denote real world magick- ceremonial or even shamanic in nature. The fact that M:tAw has a book called “Keys to the Supernal Tarot” also shows that the writers were very inventive in mixing the real world with the game. Below is a picture of an ad for that book:
From this image you can see that it uses the 22 major arcana as a way to run a chronicle. This is really enjoyable for me. Fortunatley, this book isn’t rare and I already have the PDF for it. Whats great about the PDF library is that many of the books only have one or two good chapters. This way I neither have to pay for books with only a sliver of good material, but I also don’t have to lug around or keep the books around. This is important because RPG books are BIG and heavy and bulky. the M:tAw core rulebook is over 400 pages long, and its almost A4 sized! Below is a picture of the cover of the corebook:
The tagline for Mage: the Awakening is “A Storytelling Game of Modern Sorcery” and features the pentagram over a picture of a broken stele, tablet, or talisman from Atlantis- one of the concepts of the game I am not very familiar with as of yet. As you can tell, I’ve done some research and I am happy to finally make a decision on which game to choose. I should also remember my own plans to purchase and play M20 when it arrives on the scene in print for a few reasons: it is going to be quite expensive. I’d imagine around $60. This way I wont spend that much money on M:tAw.
If you have any questions or are interested in playing, please feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Omega Institute for Holistic Studies in Rhinebeck, NY. I am in the cafe everyday except Wednesday and Thursday, from 1 to 9 PM. Now, I must get to reading my core rulebook. I will close with a few images of sigils and art from the game, as well as the promised dictionary of acronyms.Good evening, and as always, 93!
WW- White Wolf. The publisher of WOD games
WOD- World of Darkness
D&D- Dungeons and Dragons
nMage- Mage: the Awakening
M:tAw- Mage: the Awakening
oMage- Mage: the Ascension
M:tAs- Mage: the Ascension
M20- Mage 20th Anniversary Edition