This is a post about how Paradox works in Mage: The Ascension Revised. This is one of the less clearly written parts of the text and reading posts here and elsewhere about what people guestimate about backlash sizes and such, I figured the "official" rules needed a clear treatment.
Here's how Paradox works:
1) Roll the dice for a coincidental or vulgar Effect.
2) Garner any Paradox based on the type of spell and results, as follows:
- Successful coincidental Effect: 0
* Successful *or* failed vulgar Effect without witnesses: 1 pt./highest Sphere rank used.
* Successful *or* failed vulgar Effect with witnesses: 1 pt./highest Sphere rank used, +1
* Botched coincidental Effect: 1 pt./highest Sphere rank used.
* Botched vulgar Effect, without witnesses: 1 pt./highest Sphere rank used, +1
* Botched vulgar Effect with witnesses: 2 pts./highest Sphere rank used, +2
In addition, if the spell botches, each roll on a extended ritual adds +1 Paradox. This does not apply to successes or normal failures.
3) Record the Paradox on your sheet. Note the following:
- If you need to use up space on the wheel held by Quintessence (which starts at the opposite side), you lose that Quintessence. On the other hand, you never run out of room for Paradox, even if you run out of boxes.
* If you succeeded or failed, but did not botch, count your total accumulated Paradox. If it is 5 or higher, roll for backlash.
* If you botched, roll for a backlash no matter the amount.
4) Roll and note Paradox Backlash. Roll your Paradox points from the Effect *and* any other Paradox that has been accumulated as a dice pool, difficulty 6. Each success discharges a point as Backlash. Any undischarged Paradox stays in the Paradox (and Quintessence) meter.
Note A: If you have Permanent Paradox in your pool, it can create Backlash on successes but is not discharged. It stays in your meter anyway. Use a different set of dice for Premanent Paradox if you have trouble telling the types apart.
Note B: You can stave off all Backlashes for a scene at the cost of one Willpower point. At the end of the scene check for Backlash based on all Paradox accumulated for the rest of the scene.
5) The table on Page 195 of Mage Revised has a title and description that does not match the text. This table is based on how many points backlash (roll successes), not how much Paradox is in the pool.
So, take the Backlash *successes* rolled in step #4 and compare it to the table, which ends up like this:
- 1-5 successes: Roll the successes as Bashing damage (difficulty 6). Gain a Paradox Flaw with no mechanical effect
- 6-10 successes: Roll the successes as Bashing damage (difficulty 6). Gain a Paradox Flaw that adds +1-3 to nonmagical dice roll difficulties for one turn per Backlash success.
- 11-15 successes: Roll (successes-10) as a dice pool of Lethal damage (difficulty 6). The mage also suffers a Paradox flaw that adds +4-6 to nonmagical dice roll difficulties for one turn per success OR 4-6 dice of additional damage upon a special, avoidable condition (sunlight, turning widdershins, etc.) OR something split between both; OR something very strange. The side effect lasts for one turn perBacklash success.
- 16-20 successes: Roll (successes-10) as a dice pool of Lethal damage (difficulty 6). The mage is automatically incapacitated (not taken to that Health box, just unable to move or act) for one turn per Backlash success.
- 21+ successes: Roll (successes-20) as a dice pool of Aggravated damage. This cannot be soaked magically. The mage also suffers ONE of the following ill effects:
-- A permanent Flaw. This is either extremely noticeable or hinders the mage (successes-20= what you add to the difficulty of a small number of tasks, or gain as points of Physical, Mental or Supernatural Flaws). The Flaw becomes a part of the mage's "default" natural Pattern and Avatar, and negating it magically is vulgar.
-- Permanent Paradox. Typically, gain (successes-20) in Permanent Paradox. If the character gains 5+ points of Permanent Paradox this way, pick something else unless you want to risk an unplayable character. 3 points is reasonable.
-- A Paradox Spirit attacks or otherwise intervenes.
-- The character is sucked into a Paradox Realm until he or she finds her way out.
6) Okay, that's your Backlash (if you got one). Keep any Permanent Paradox and any dice that didn't Backlash as points of Paradox in your pool. If your accumulated Paradox drops to 5 or less, the Storyteller may allow you to discharge 1 point per week.
Next, I'll talk about Permanent Paradox and provide an example of how it all works.
You gain Permanent Paradox from two main sources:
- Type A: Major Backlashes inflict it, and it never goes away without special sourging techniques.
- Type B: Long term Pattern enhancement causes it. It goes away when the enhancement goes away.
The name is deceptive. You can get rid of Permanent Paradox.
- Masters of the Art has suggestions for getting rid of Type A. The one reliable method is to get it burned out in an Umbral quest to the Radiance. This causes intense pain ad three dice of aggravated damage per point of Permanent Paradox.
- To get rid of Type B, simply drop any Pattern enhancement Effect that provides superhuman ability. These include:
-- Life or youth extension magic. -- Magic that raises an attribute over 5, *unless* it is gained through Archsphere mastery and not an Effect. -- Life Magic that allows the mage to do something a human Pattern can't naturally do, like gills or infrared vision as a part of the natural form's abilities. -- Life Magic that gives the mage's Life Pattern the ability to soak agravated wounds.
- Pattern Bleeding occures whenever you enhance a Pattern beyond its basic capabilities, but not necessarily to superhuman levels. For example, increasing a mage's normal 3 Strength to 5 creates Pattern Bleeding. Increasing it to 6 creates Pattern Bleeding *and* Permanent Paradox.
- In other words, everything that causes Type B Permanent Paradox causes Pattern Bleeding but the reverse is not true.
- Pattern Bleeding is straightforward. The afflicted individual absorbs 1 point of Quintessence per day. If the subject lacks Quintessence, she suffers one point of aggravated damage. This cannot be magically soaked and can only be healed with Quintessence, though this requires no other magic. The afflicted (or Thaumivore) can absorb it from Tass or a mage who magically transfers it without using magic, but can't suck iut from living things or directly from Nodes without special powers.
- WEITERLEITUNG Example of Playing (Paradox)
Teleporting objects requires the requsite level of Correspondence conjoined with the applicable Pattern Sphere *or* just the Correspondence Sphere at one level higher. For example, teleporting a person is Corr3/Life3 or Corr4. Exception: If it's just you, then the standard level can be used without conjunctions.
Damaging magic was slightly changed toward the end of Mage Revised to that each targetting success inflicted a *level* (not a die, as was true) of additional damage. Targetted spells are things like bolts of flame and such that attack one Pattern with another and require a roll to hit, usually using Wits+Occult or Dex+Firearms. Targetting successes (after defense successes are removed) do allow for more damaged, but such Effects can be dodged. Direct Pattern attacks (like Rip the Man Body) always hit but gain no bonus damage from got targetting.
Unspoken precedent is that the Quintessence in a mage's Avatar is untouchable by anything short of Archprime.
Similarly, unspoken precedent says that any additive effect (where I buff my gun with magic) is generally half as powerful as non-additive magic.
Rotes do not have to follow standard Sphere rules, which is one reason they are sought. There was supposed to be more about this, but it was never detailed. Making a rote with nonstandard Sphere requirements is an extended Intelligence + Occult or Science roll (diff 8). You must have both the Sphere ranks of the base Effect and those of the rote requirements.
Every 5 successes allows you to switch 1 point of Sphere requirements, adding rank requirements to another Sphere in the rote or adding an entirely new Sphere requirement. You may not lower ranks below 2 or by more than 2. You also need to justify it in paradigm. Finally, you add 1 point of additional Sphere requirements, since the convoluted principle of the rote is less efficient than conventional Effects.
For example, let's say you want a rote that colocates a bunch of people at once. That's normally Corr 4/Life 3. You score 10 successes to turn it into a rote, so you drop it to Corr 3/Life 3/Prime 2. This makes the difficulty easier and you can teach it to people. You justify it by saying you're using Prime to better sense the fundamental elements of the Life Pattern.
You can also increase a rote's Sphere requirements and add them instead of switching. This is desireable for rotes whose nature you wish to conceal from lesser mages.
I actually planned on adding something like this to the Mage STH, but space considerations and timidity prevented me from doing so.