Writing that crossover between Mage and Planescape the other day got me thinking about what Mage would be like if you were to run it now. And the more I thought about it, the more I thought that this what not only something I wanted to do, but would also give me the chance to fix a few things that had always bothered me in the past.
Like, for example, the way that the Spheres and Traditions never really made sense to me the way they were.
First, here’s a brief reminder of how it is in the game, from the Wikipedia entry on it:
Now, some of these work very well for me. The Verbena should be asigned Life, and the Dreamspeakers should be assigned Spirit. No arguments there.
But some Traditions just seemed to have been created to fill a void – notably the Euthanatos, who are a reasonable fit with Entropy, but whose historical basis is weaker than that of almost any other traditions.
But if historical basis is the watchword, then surely a group of medieval alchemists like the Order of Hermes should have Matter rather than Forces? And while the Akashic Brotherhood are a good fit for Mind, is not the Cult of Ecstasy, with its emphasis on consciousness expansion, a better one?
And so on. Once you change one, you have to change at least one other, and it becomes like musical chairs. After all the swaps had been made, this is what I wound up with:
|Tradition||Old Sphere||New Sphere|
|Cult of Ecstasy||Time||Mind|
|Order of Hermes||Forces||Matter|
|Sons of Ether||Matter||Entropy|
My rationales are as follows:
First of all, the ones who stay the same should be fairly obvious why, although for the Celestial Chorus and the Virtual Adepts, it’s more a case of least worst fit than a good fit – the Chorus have a reasonable claim to Spirit, but the Dreamspeakers have a better one, so that’s that. The Virtual Adepts get to keep Correspondence because although it doesn’t fit that well with them (in my opinion), it fits even less well with anyone else.
The Akashics get Forces because this seems to fit with their manipulation of energies better than anything else. Not a perfect fit, but the Akashics are a tricky one to match – most of the spheres that would work for them work still better elsewhere.
The Cult of Ecstasy, as mentioned above, get Mind. Think of them a little less as Jim Morrison and a little more as Tim Leary.
The Euthanatos get Time, because they always seemed to me to be concerned more with fate than death per se – the idea that each person should die at the appointed time has as its logical concomittant that they should live until then.
The Order of Hermes, descended from the Western alchemical movement, make the most sense to me with Matter – if you look at the classic alchemical texts, they even use Matter as a metaphor for all their workings, whatever spheres they would actually entail in the world of Mage.
The Sons of Ether get Entropy for two reasons: 1) it fits better here than anywhere else, and 2) the Mage books make it clear that the Etherites are inevitably destined to fail with each of their inventions. Entropy represents that tendency – without even being that aware of it (no more than a fish is of water) they work it into all their creations.
Now, these reassignments would necessarily imply a whole buttload of shiny new rotes to go with them, but I always preferred to make things more improvised anyway, so that’s a job for another time (and ideally, from my perspective, another writer).
Next time: the Magickal History of the world for the last twenty years.