What is Mage
Witchcraft, blessings, clairvoyance, tantra, sorcery… even the real world has dozens of names to describe different methods to do something extraordinary. The people who perform them spend decades studying, practicing, worshiping, or perfecting their methods. Their dedication is fueled by belief in something very real to them that is greater than the mundane world, whether that is God, ancient occult writings and languages, or as-of-yet undiscovered science. As far as we’re concerned, these people mages and they each use magic in their own way.
Mage is a role-playing game set in a modern 21st century world stranger and darker than our own. The player characters were everyday people until they experienced an awakening… a revelation about the nature of the world and what lies beyond. That mere glimpse of enlightenment grants him power over this world, and leaves him with a burning desire to ascend from this world back to the realms beyond.
Given enough time and experience, a mage is capable of anything. Hurling fireballs, traveling through time, making deals with spirits, turning lead into gold, these are mere tricks compared to a mage’s true potential. The only limit to what a mage can do is his enlightenment, his training, and his own imagination. Sure there are spell lists, and most of the time they’ll be enough. But even the lowliest mage can research and improvise new effects. That doesn’t mean it’s easy…
Mages are not superheroes, mutants, nor aliens nor anything of the sort. They are shaman, wizards, witches, zen masters, benders, priests, hackers, psychics, etc. The difference? Superheroes shoot lasers from their eyes just by opening them, aliens apparently leap tall buildings on a whim, and mutants heal wounds by making a dramatic pose for the camera. Mages require the right tools, the right words, and the right training… and it has to be done right. (It’s Levi-o-sa not Levios-a-!)
A mage’s beliefs are just as important as a mage’s power. How would a mage deal with a ghost haunting an old house and tormenting its inhabitants? A psychic might enter a trance and draw circles while pleading with the ghost to go to the light, a warlock might draw a seal of Solomon and invoke the ancient king’s demon pact to expel the ghost, and the four discredited scientists might kick in the door and fire up their their proton packs. They achieved the same goal, but with different means and very different results.
Reality has rules and there are penalties for breaking them. So mages can hurl lightning bolts from their fingertips. Good for them. There are 6 billion other people in the world and they think that’s impossible. Their collective belief helps shape and reinforce the laws of reality. The conflict between the mage’s will and the will of the consensus creates a paradox, tearing the fabric of reality. The universe senses and repairs the damage, and it might lash out at the source of it. Wise mages are subtle in their works when they can be; reckless mages find themselves mysteriously injured, cursed, or worse.
Oh yea, mages are people too. First and foremost mages are humans, just like you and me. Most mages probably have some kind of a normal life… a job, a career, a family. They also have all sorts of useful skills and talents like driving a car, hacking a computer, or just good old fashioned ass-kissing. And there’s that small problem of “absolute power corrupts absolutely”... how will a mere mortal stay sane with the power to kill with a word, see the future, and defy fate itself?
So what do players do in a mage game? They do what they’d do in any good RPG, go on an adventure! Even mages who keep a low profile and just want a normal life find that trouble has a way of finding them all on its own.
- Magic can help people. A radical concept in an RPG: heroes with power helping to defend and empower those who don’t have power.
- Mages go bad. Knowing what they know, what could be scarier to mages than the idea that there are other mages out there? Humans are already greedy, sadistic, insane, narcissistic, delusional… and that’s without the ability to reshape the fabric of reality. Some wish to enslave humans, others are themselves enslaved to dark powers, and a few might even like the idea of being the only mage in the world…
- The supernatural lurks. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. Magic exists… that begs the question, what else exists? Ghosts? Vampires? Demons? Dragons? Agent Smith? A mage may not know the answers, but he will find out sooner or later.
- Unearthed secrets await. The story of King Arthur sounds a whole lot more possible now doesn’t it? Where is Excalibur now? Was there a Holy Grail? Is a mage powerful enough to bargain for a dead friend to be brought back to the living? Mages aren’t the only beings on earth who dabble in the occult, how far are they willing to go in their quest for knowledge and power?
- Everyday problems haven’t gone away. Mages need to eat, sleep, pay rent, obey the law, etc just like anyone else. Turning water into wine isn’t going to help a mage dodge a loan shark looking to break his kneecaps, and that spirit the mage was with when he was allegedly murdered someone won’t be a very good alibi. (Or will it?)
- Ascension awaits! So how do mages do it? Who exactly do you go to for enlightenment? The Pope might have secrets, but he’s probably not sharing. Gandhi might be more helpful, but he’s dead (actually a mage might overcome that minor detail). Or maybe the path to enlightenment is to awaken everyone else… but can mages do that without being hunted by frightened masses, government fascists, other mages who prefer magic to be a secret, and of course reality itself?