Character Creation Guidelines for Mage: Paradox Lost

  1. Start with a concept before you break out the dots. This is always a good rule, but particularly so here because a couple of the Anime merits & flaws (see below) will change how you build your character. Note that only one person in the group can have each of these merits/flaws - two Overpowered Dysfunctional Adolescents is one too many.
  2. We're using the Mage Revised rules. I don't think character creation changed drastically between Mage 2nd and Mrev, but other things have (Paradox buildup, focus shedding, bashing/lethal/agg damage, Avatar Winds). I can bring people unfamiliar with Mrev up to speed if need be.
    1. Akashics and Choristers - if you plan on playing an Akashic Brother or a member of the Celestial Chorus, read the rules sections of the new Tradbooks (I have AK now, I should have CC within the next couple of days). Akashics in particular should know that having Do is more than just buying a single skill - there's a whole host of prerequisites that go along with it. To compensate, Do is very, very powerful.
  3. The Arete cap on starting characters is 5. This is a high-powered game of cinematic action and adventure - so you guys can be significantly more powerful than the average starting character. You don't have to start out with an Arete of 5, but anyone who doesn't start out with at least 3 is going to have trouble keeping up.
  4. You have a lot more freebie points to play with. Everyone has 35, yes that's right 35, freebie points to allocate after the doing the usual Storyteller 3/5/7 5/9/13 spread. Enjoy.
  5. Some dots are more appropriate than others. The game will have a fair share of combat, so all characters need to have at least some basic skill in that department - or a very high Dodge. Just like in anime, put some though into how your character fights - preferred weapon, preferred style, that kind of thing. Also, check out the Added Abilities list to see things I've added to the standard set of things on a Mage character sheet. If I'm putting them in, they must be useful, so someone should try and have these….
  6. Some Backgrounds are particularly more appropriate than others.
    1. Many parts of the game will take place in out-of-the-way or off-planet locales, so some Backgrounds that are tied to a particular place or setting won't be very useful, so don't take them. These include Node, Chantry, Mentor and Library.
    2. Some Backgrounds will only be useful if they connect with the game's area of focus. It deals heavily with mage society and places out in the Umbra, so while having Contacts 4 (Chicago police) is pretty much useless, Contacts 2 (Ethernaut Expeditionary Fleet) could come in handy. This pertains to Allies, Contacts, Influence, and Resources.
    3. Finally, some Backgrounds are particularly suited for a game about powerful, complex heroes. This includes Avatar, Dream, Destiny, and Wonder. Having cool magic toys is part of the fun of anime, so Wonder is a particularly fun one that often gets overlooked - everyone gets a 1-dot Wonder for free. Keep in mind that if you want multiple gadgets, you need to buy Wonder multiple times.
  7. Think about style more than paradigm. Your paradigm is how your mage views the Universe, your style is how your mage applies that view to work magic. This isn't a particularly philosophic, contemplative game - a mage's worldview isn't terribly relevant to kicking ass and taking names. How you kick ass, however - that matters. Whether it's chanting to the spirits, conjuring lightning with the True Names of Angels, or creating people's futures by reading Tarot cards. Coolness points will be given out for doing magic in keeping with your individual style.
  8. Think about Resonance. Resonance is (for the most part) a new concept in Mage Revised. Basically, as a mage progresses and works more and more magic upon the universe, the mage is in turn transformed to reflect his intent. Read the relevant section of Mrev for more info. Every character will start out with 4 dots of Resonance in at least 2 categories.
  9. Keep true to the conventions of the genre - backstory is key. Everyone in an anime has some sort of sordid past, particularly the heroes. If you've having trouble developing it on your own, let me know and we'll work something out together. For those with absolutely no clue, there is the Past, What Past? Flaw.
    1. Don't make a carbon copy of a pre-existing character. Use your favorite anime as a jumping off point, but build upon it to create someone unique. Creating a hybrid of two or more types can be fun: playing Shinji is one thing, playing someone with Shinji's emotional problems combined with Dryden's sense of cool is something else - a person who acts calm and smooth but is unable to handle it when things get out of control.

Anime Merits and Flaws for Mage: Paradox Lost

Dysfunctional Overpowered Adolescent (aka Shinji Syndrome): 1 pt. Flaw. You're the kind of person who can battle demigods for fate of the High Astral Realm, but can't carry on a conversation with the opposite sex. Maybe your father put you through horrifying experiments when you were younger, maybe you were raised amongst the Cat People for too long and never learned the finer points of human emotions. In any case, you've got lots of power but very little control, particularly when it comes to the trials of becoming an adult.

Rules: Your Arete starts at 5, no need to spend points on it. You get three additional dots to spend on Spheres at character creation. That's the upside. The downsides are several. First, you can never roll more than 2 Charisma dice on any sort of active roll - you simply don't come off all that well when you open your mouth. Secondly, whenever you are in a situation relevant to your dysfunction, your Willpower pool is cut in half. (I mustn't run away, I mustn't run away…) Thirdly, well, you'll discover the rest as you go. Just keep a tight leash on your magic….

Past, What Past?: 1 pt. Flaw. While it's normal for anime characters to have shady, muddled, or otherwise mysterious origins, yours are particularly unusual - you don't know what your origins are. You have absolutely no memory of your identity beyond a certain (fairly recent) point.

Rules: You can't take Allies, Contacts, or Influence Backgrounds. You automatically have the Flaws: Dark Secret and Hunted, but you gain no points for them. On the upside, you have 5 dots in Abilities that you don't know about - skills from your past that had been buried. Sometime during the course of the adventure you'll find yourself rolling more dice than you should be and you can add those dots to your sheet.

Knows More Than He Lets On: 2 pt. Merit. There always seems to be one character who seems average, but becomes pivotal to the backstory at one point and provides exposition at dramatically appropriate moments. He/she never tells the whole truth until the last possible moment that it's useful, but keeps saying tantalizing or enigmatic things that keep us wondering.

Rules: Basically, you're the Storyteller's bitch for driving the plot along at one or more crucial moments. You'll receive some addendums to you background written by me, possibly including one or more revelations about other characters. However, you are bound to not divulge this information until A) you've dropped a number of mysterious half-truths or outright lies that keeps everyone else at the table guessing, and B) it is really, really dramatically appropriate. I may also privately let you know that a certain piece of information needs to come out during a particular session. This is the only Anime Merit that more than one character can have.

Stranger in a Strange Land: 1 pt. Flaw. Young schoolgirls in steampunk fantasy realms, young schoolboys being wooed by multiple psionic alien princesses, middle-aged housewives raising transcendent godlike daughters - why is it that someone out of place always gets sucked into epic adventures? That's you!

Rules: You don't belong in the company you find yourself in. Perhaps you're a Native American shaman riding along with a company of Ethernauts and cyberjocks. Maybe you're just an Orphan who spent her entire magical career doing nothing but cheating on tests and breaking cerfew. You're still a powerful mage, but for whatever reason you don't really belong in the circle of friends you find yourself in. Also, you are somewhat innocent and naïve, unprepared for the Tremendously Important Tasks you will be undertaking to Save The World. On the other hand, the chance that your long-lost half demon hybrid brother is out to kill you and take the soulstone embedded in your left ventricle is fairly low.

Fallen Angel: 2 pt. Merit. You were once much more than the person you are now. Perhaps you were a powerful archmage, or a celestial being who roamed the cosmos. Whatever the case, that was all brought to a screeching halt by something Very Dramatic. You've fallen from your state of grace, and now wield only a pale echo of the power you once did. But you remember what it was like to be mighty, and how you long to be that way again….

Rules: You can 6 additional dots to spend on Skills and Knowledges during character creation, reflecting the time you spend as something much more than you are now. However, there exists some other area of yourself that is capped, growth potential that is forever closed off as a result of your trauma. Perhaps you cannot raise your Arete, or your Willpower, or cannot learn any sphere above rank 3. Furthermore, you long to regain your lost glory, and will risk a great deal (both of yourself and placing others at risk) to make yourself whole again.

Mole: 3 pt Flaw. Bad guys can be very clever, sometimes. They lay plans long in advance, and have contingencies in case pesky heroes pop up. You are such a contingency. Maybe you had your memories altered, maybe it has something to do with one of your treasured magical artifacts. Something about you works to the Enemy's distinct advantage, and sooner or later he's going to call it in…

Rules: Sometime into the game, I'm going to hand you a sealed envelope. Hold onto it - at some later point I'm going to ask you to open the envelope, at which point something bad is going to happen. The consequences of this Flaw will not be such that your character will be permanently hosed, but the party will be placed into jeopardy.

International Bisexual Catgirl Conspiracy: 5 pt. Merit. No, you can't have this. Really. Not ever. Sorry. Nyah nyah nyah.

Additional Abilities for Mage: Paradox Lost

New Knowledges:

Metamagic: Skill in the Spheres naturally confers a certain amount of understanding about how the universe works, and how magic can interact with a particular aspect of reality. Metamagic represents a broader, more theoretical understanding of the same principles. You have studied applications of spheres you don't have - you know, for example, what skills a Master of Spirit has that an Adept does not. You also have some additional understanding of the more complicated things that can be done by combining spheres - "hanging" effects with Time, wards and bans with Correspondence, and all sorts of neat stuff with Prime.

Lore (Ascension War): You are familiar with the important events of the Ascension War within your lifetime. This includes, for example, the destruction of Doissetep, the Crash of the Digital Web, the fall of Mus (see Mage 2nd introductory story), and some of the turmoil within the Technocracy. Keep in mind that this is still all from a mages' perspective - you don't know the full story behind, say, the destruction of Ravnos or the Sixth Great Maelstrom. You know ofthem more than most, but you can't explain them.

New Skills:

Tactics: You are familiar with small-unit tactics, including how medieval weapons (swords, staves, and the like) apply to a world that includes guns, and how magic (particularly coincidental) can be used most effectively in a tactical setting. Perception + Tactics will help you be aware of potential ambushes or traps, Intelligence + Tactics will provide some insight in the best way to handle a given encounter assuming you have a fairly complete understanding of what's going on.