Intruders: Encounters With the Abyss (Mage: the Awakening)
While it is loosely based on a prior White Wolf product, Mage: The Ascension , differences in the setting themes and core concepts have led critics to question whether it is appropriate to call Awakening a successor to Ascension or a completely different game. As with the other games in the Chronicles of Darkness , the history presented in the game provides for some ambiguity. However, the "origin story" of magic and mages is less ambiguous or at least given more lip-service than that of vampires or werewolves.
In the mythic past, a mysterious island existed with a single towering mountain, encircled by dragons that lived upon its summit. The mountain called to humanity through dreams and visions.
Over time, the dragons left and the mountain continued to call. Some humans answered the call and sought it out. The humans who moved there discovered the first secrets of magic, and through magic they created the mighty city-state now known as Atlantis , Meru, Lemuria , etc. Over time, the mages became filled with hubris , and began fighting over how it is best to lead the world.
The Fallen World is the world where humanity now exists, and the Supernal realm is the realm of magic, where the victorious mages of long ago now reside. The Abyss that separates the two worlds prevents most of humanity from awakening to magic, and hampers the power of mages trapped in the Fallen World. Mages believe that the Supernal Realm is the truth of reality and the origin of magic.
World of Darkness - Mage the Awakening - Intruders Encounters With the Abyss
It is ruled by the Exarchs, powerful mages who have established themselves as its rulers. The Exarchs wish to snuff out the memory of "Atlantis" and knowledge of magic so that they will remain the supreme masters of reality. They are more godlike forces than human beings now, however this means that they must influence the Fallen World through servants.
Resistance against the Exarchs is possible because of the Oracles, a small number probably five of Atlantean mages who also reached the Supernal Realm. They each created or maybe are one of the Watchtowers, which are locations in the Supernal Realms that can cut through the Abyss. They serve as paths towards magic, allowing Sleepers humans unaware of magic to awaken to it.
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Each mage visits a Watchtower during their Awakening—through means perhaps accidental, or perhaps resulting from a person's nature or understanding—and their magical abilities are forever affected by that journey. Fragments of the organizations, artifacts and writings from the First City survive to the present day, and mages hope to use this knowledge to further their various causes, by gaining a stronger connection to the Supernal Realm. The process of awakening can be slow or fast, but there are two major ways in which the event may manifest: the Mystery Play in which the mage's senses blur the real world and the magical symbolism of their awakening and the Astral Journey which takes place entirely within a dreamscape of the prospective mage.
In both sorts of "awakenings", the mage-to-be goes on a journey that culminates with them arriving at or in their respective Tower and inscribing their name upon it.
There are five Paths of Magic that have a sympathetic connection to one of the Five Watchtowers, each with a particular style and focus. A Mage's Path is decided with his or her awakening.
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After awakening, a mage typically joins one of the five Orders, although some choose to remain free of political connections, or remain outside of mage society due to ignorance, and are called apostates. The Five Orders are united in their opposition to the Exarchs, and four claim a heritage going back to the First City. The Introduction explains this and discusses researching the things that come out of the Abyss - for without knowledge, one is pretty much defenceless - and describes how most of the rest of the book is a catalogue of the strange and unwholesome manifestations of the powers that lurk in the Abyss.
It ends by suggesting suitable source material, starting with The Fortean Times and providing a reading list of horror stories and a selection of movies. One of the suggestions is H. Lovecraft, but not as you might be accustomed to treating his work: for these purposes concentrate on the strange unearthly manifestations that often ignore the havoc they are causing because the Earth and those on it are plain unimportant to them Before we get on to the actual critters, though, there's a chapter called Otherworldly Dread.
Primarily aimed at Storytellers - as indeed this whole book is - it looks at how to incorporate the Abyss and the horrors emanating from it into your chronicles.
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There's plenty of advice on how to use these intruders, making them an effective threat and something downright scary! And then there's the creature collection.
[Mage: the Awakening ] Villain Week – the Abyss – Life and Times of a Philippine Gamer
Each one is presented in a standard format, starting with the name s by which it is known in this world. There's scene-setting fiction, notes on how it appears to senses both magical and mundane, details of what is known and what it does, how it gets into the world, what it tries to do once there and the all important details of how it can be banished to whence it came. There are ideas and story hooks for getting them into your game, and any necessary game statistics you'll need when your mages square off against it. There are a full twenty-four of these unspeakable things for you to contemplate Horror may not be your thing, but even so it might be worth sparing use as a warning that being a mage is not all fun and games and working your will in the world.
If you and your group do like horror stories, well there are enough here to keep you busy for a fair while.