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aT Cent on, ismagic— a tale Unicorns and Nobody believes in any of it. But we're giving that the lie rightnow as we step through this wall... likeso... ah, and those flatfootson the other side will have no idea whet we've gone Go ahead and sit down a moment; you'll need to absorb what I'm saying, and I need to catch my breath. No, don tpick up that board. I'm not $0ing to kill you or ensorcel you or eat your flesh or any of that crap. So shut upand listen, or you'll have a very short life in the next few minutes, and not because of me. Hang on.I've gotta dosomething else. Allright. We can hide herea bit without worrying about those cops. They'll B ‘busy on the other side of the block. Gives mesome time to bring you up tospeed. Mace: THe AsceNsieN THEITIAGICAL \X/@RLD K You'vestumbled through your life with the belief that this is an orderly, rational world, that science can explain everything and that myths and fairy tales are for children: You've worn blinders put on you by a hun- dred years of engineered history. Everybody buys intoit and if you don't, you'rea crank, a psycho ora crystal-waver. The problem is, that's [_& just the world people buy becatise it's safe. It's orderly and mundane and everything's explainable. Everyone can get fast food and a boring job without worrying about crazy things like demons or magicspells. You're different. You thought you wep insane when you looked out tonight and saw what was really going on, 1 a had1to bea tumor and you werej icinating — that's it.Cq bcognition of magic, all of your life 6-Pagan ritualsto kung e ark on this world. Unlike the days of yore, though, its quer and it’s carefully hidden from the eyesofnormal people. See, normal pedpledon'twanta ical world. They wanta safe world whe thea have to face the pail f demons, dragons, imagination and drea: people just don't fit old of “normal,” as you've so recently learned, We open our eyes to.a wor! e we can make our own rules and Choose for ourselves what we wantigBelieve in. We Awaken to the magicthat's been hiding in plain sight. Don't believe me? You just saw a little magic when we stepped through that wall, I bet you feltsomething when I made thatsigil with the amulet too— hairs’ onthe back of your neck, a sudden feeling likehaving a word on the tip of your tongue, right? That's magic, too. Just because itisnot visible doesn't mean it's not powerful-Ir'sthere, and once you've seen it a few times, you'll believe. Once you believe, you'll see it al/thetime. No, you're not crazy, and neither am. You've just taken a step into a larger orld. Takes some getting used 16, but you'd best acceptit, because youcan'tstep | back through that door. The sudden realization that exploded into your mind ill never go away now. Tknow how you feel because I know what!'m talking about: Least you can dois listen. PROLOGUE THROUGH A DARKENED MIRRER THacic IO] Don'tlook at me like that. I'm trying to help you out here. Allright, you'veseen a couple of neat tricks with your own eyes.Justto help push you over the edge, I'm gonna show you what's really up. Don't move; I'm not gonna hurt you. Just watch what! do. Hang on— damned elixirs are always in the wrong pocket. Allright You know thatsort of vibration that you can just feel in your skull, theone that told you something was wrong with that guy back at the shop and weirded you out when we stepped through the wall? Focus on that feeling. I want youto think about the power behind that feeling. I know you're skeptical, but not a goddamn bit of this will work if you don't believe. So just remember how we ent through that rock like it was mist. Take a deep breath, and close your eyes r a second. Think about that power and open them again. See it? Neat, huh? ‘What you're seeing in my hand is what we call Quintessence. It's basically the energy of magic itself: All of creation stems from Quintessential enersy; it's just bound up into what we call Patterns. You're a Pattern, I'ma Pattern, and any- thing with a representation that we can sense or affect has some sort of Pattern. It can $et much more complex than thatso'll keep itshort. ‘When you get this metaphysical kick in the head, you have the potential todo magic. Some people can do magic without ever really seeing the world in this way, but there's no way to separate them out. This Awakening toa wider world,on theother hand, always signals the capacity to learn teal magic. You'veseen that there's more to the an you wereever led to believe, -and you can learn to e. It's tempered with will and enlightenment, ile to exert change. Magic $ives us all sorts of ence of the universe. By changing that energy, we he w6rld around us. Your magic isa tool. cuses that energy and twists it around. 1 piienguats and westep through awall: ic things. oPHE PRICE Obviously, nothing in this world ‘Magic is noexception. Although magic brings power, it’ att powerful. A magician can only do what he has the will, belief and training to backup. [never learned-to control weather, for instance, and it'ssuch a nastily cOmplexand large-scale task that it's out of my league anyway. You might build a spell to fly, but you're not going to ‘suddenly unweave the concept of gravity. Remember, you can only handle so much atonce, suppose I could build a magical portal to Tokyo, but the effort would besoenormous thatit’s really just simpler to take a jet. The other problem is that magic has a tendency to get out of hand. It's not that it's totally chaotic, but it does have side effects. Since magic reflects your desire, it iturally shows off yourintentionsand youremotions. Cast a spell with the PraLocue-THR@USHATDARKENED MIRROR intent to kill someone, and your magic will show it— ir Il be intense, violent and angry. Cast something with lust in mind and it'sa totally differentpicture. The really blatant stuff runs the risk of Paradox. See, I know from my train- ing and my understanding of magic that can move through a wall with the right rituals, yet everything that we know about the world says that doing so is impossible. It's a Paradox! So, the more outlandish your magic, the more you run the risk ofan outright backfire. Doing something that just nudges reality along its appointed rounds is simple. Going hell-bent on whacked-out spells and drawing down all sorts of nastiness, on the other hand, not only takes work, but itinvolves some major changes. The more you try to change theuniverse around, the more likel} itis to whip you upside the head in return. Paradox ould just crash your magic, or it could cause all sorts of weirdness to afflict wouldbother Truth close your eyes agaith 3s that normal peopledon’, andhas a result, we $et dragged in| (ess that you thought only existed in no That's reall] _ pay attention.Mou see, now that you're Awake, you're going to find your way into this magical world. That means that you can learn to do magic responsi- ly, or youcan blow yourself apart. Chances are, if you screw up, you getto take someone | know along for the ride. Call it enlightened self-interest, if you will, but I think I'll spare thecouple of hours to at least let you undérstand this mess. AHIST@RY LESSON I firsi discovered magic many, many years.ago, but wasjustas iff” rantas you. [thoughtI'd cracked, that'd seen too much horror and my mind had just broken. It took a few weeks forme to run intosomeone From my teacher I learned therudiments of magic, history and society, mystical style. Now I'm doing a favorand passing it on to you. lace: Tie Ascensiél Magicians have always existed. We're the pioneers and visionaries who do th impossible: the men and women who explore the unknown, take up causes and ‘Seek answers to the great mysteries. For the better part of say, about ten thousand years, these people dug up bizarre secrets, cavorted withstrange entities and basically ran around engaging in all manner of experimentation in the pursuit of power, wisdom, security and anything else that humans could want. It's there in history if you look for it— stories like the epic of Gilgamesh,the Bible, the tales of King Arthur People really did all of those miraculous things, and they stilldo today, ‘ So, when you'vesuddenly realized your potential to change the world and opened your eyes to the big picture, how do you learn to use that power? The earli- est mages probably had to improvise as they went along. Somewhere along the way, they started talking to one another about how they did things. Mages shared ideas d theories, they concocted reasons for their spells, and they passed down their beliefs from teacher to student. From these roots were born magical orders. PReLECUE:-THR@USH AY DARKENED MIRROR Obviously, when you get a bunch of really powerful visionaries together in one place, they're not going to agree on any- thing. These magical fraternities fought like angry cats over fine points of dogma, theory and practice. Martial arts masters kicked the crap out of reincarnationist Kevorkians while the Church burned witches at the stake. Middle Eastern seers and alchemists clashed with European knights. Shamanic cultures got eradicated _ in the crossfire. The sad fact is that every damn one of them was convinced that it hada handle on “the truth.” “4So I'm getting a little histrionic. Close enough, Basically, mages warred over who was tight, who was wrong and who deserved to guide and shepherd humanity. Everybody hada vision but Honefithem could agree. Masters and their students formed jealous cabals to defend their hidden sures, and each group squabbled with alf the rest, Somehow, humanity stumbled along, alter nately fearing and worshipping these mystics who brought them potent new ways of thinking buralso shackled them with conflicting ideas or pure, outright disbelief Thisall getskicked under therug forrea- sons that I'm getting to, so just hang on. A DARK AGE Bythe Middle Ages, people had devel- oped a substantial bunch of different societies. Europe labored under a feudal system where nobility and the Church fought for dominance as scholars and ceNsieN mystics evaded scrutiny so that they could pursue knowledge undisturbed. In Asia, great empires that would form China, Japan, Korea and the like all pio- neered complex social systems meshed with the budding martial arts and philosophical religions like Buddhism and Shinto. Africa had thriving cities, kingdoms and wizardly advisors before it was decimated with plagues, famines and colonization. The Americas boasted native peoples who builtmathematical systems, engineering feats, intricate religions and some frighteningly clever de- vices. In every one of these cultures, mages pioneered everything from agricultural developments to mechanical wizardry to social change, Sure, some normal humans had ¢reat impacts, 100, but by and large, mages inspired a lot of _the most outstanding, . Europe got organized Selves in political warfare, while the morescholarly ones pursued agic in an attempt to understand and control the universe. Naturally, theygapread. The wizards tried a greatexperi- mentto bring all magicians un oLMiitacr bush oy fell to their own limitations andthe temptatiot e churchmen decided to eradicate everyone who didn't Fink likd id. Every $roup was so caught up in establishingits own superio! a aud@ivho hadn't Awakefied wound upwietims in the mageq Alth@ugh mages made som cost them dearly. REASON FOR THE ITIASSES One important thing to remember: Jullpecause you've suddenly seen the world as it is doesn’t mean that you cai ily suddenly do magic. Everyone Awakens to their power in a different way. Forsome it’s the ability to make things happen according to studied mystical principles, strong faith or well-practiced exercises, For others, it comes as a flash of intuitive genius that leads to feats of science, The defining point is that you wake up and suddenly you believe that you can change the world — and youcan. So there'were a bunch of magicians running around burning heretics, sum- Moning demons, sacrificing virgins and basically tearing up the landscapeso diy that normal people could do littlémore than hide in their homes. About je same time, a bunch of people start latching on to the idea that most of the ProLocue: THReMaH A’ DARKENED TTIRROR world can be explained in repeatable, rational steps, that reason can arrive at allthe solutions and that everybody can benefit from an understanding of the rules by which the world works. Combine the two, and on one side you get ma ¢icians who don't give a rat's ass about normal people, while on the other side you get magicians who take up the banner of reason and rational thought and really believe in it. Thus was born the Order of Reason. Although science and rational thought aff seem to work on objective prin- ciples, the frank reality of the matter is that alot of science didn't work until these people codified it and believed in it. Working together and sharing ideas, these thinkers put together a way of looking at the universe, but posited that it would work thé same for anyone. Sure, their theories were wild and it ook a lot of work to learn such insights, but the idea was that, even if you es © peorked, it worked the same for you as it e scientists just knew the € any other group of mages. F Wesusng: and sheytbadead- vaneésin thinking. They fought a lor witgSther mages. They had their setbacks ‘and problems. But they hit pn one thin eof theother groups had ormialeveryday people. as me cemter. Reason preyed upon comm Y: With thesupporto} i ' er of Reason'sthinkers ould disseminate their. dea tothe populace. People tested and used their theories, ‘and worked out the kinks. Peasants rose up to depose tyrannical priests or mysterious id dangerous wizards. The revolution snowballed, and suddenly the magicians found themselves oni the outs. People didn’t have any more tolerance for the groups that had abused them. The Order of Reason pressed its advantage, ruthlessly elimi- nating anything deemed dangerous for mankind, even asits theoristsdecided to build anew world where people wouldn't have to worry aboutspirits or dangerous roguemagic. Technology and science became the watchwords of the day. WHAT'S LEFT T@DAY Overseveral hundred years, the Orderof Reason established its stranglehold of Society Yousit here in acity lit by electricity, with modern construction materials for 10 TMace: THe Ascensin the buildings, truckloads of food broughtin from mechanical farms, and you live by their principles. t's not a bad life. if youdon't want anything better The Order of Reason took technology as mankind's savior,and it took thename of the Technocracy. ‘Today the Technocracy holds all the cards. Though the Technocrats don'tactu- ally control the world, they certainly watch it, and they have influence in all of the right places. They protected humanity from extermination by supernatural forces, and built this safe and prospero’ worldthat you seearound you. So why doesn'tanybody believein magic? Howcome history books dismiss it all? It's partoftheTechnoctacy’s program— or Po- $rom, as they call it. Back in its early days.the Technocracy decided thatmagicwastoo dangerous (and too concentrated in the hands N h\ ofixresponsible individuals) 10 be Allowed in this world. So the Technocracy instituted a search-and-destroy attitude. Groups of agents, bethey knightsin the Dark Ages or Men in Black in themodern age, would hunt down “anomalotis manifestations” and “ster ilize" them.(And, sure,some of the hard-core scientists want tostudy these phenomena, but onerun-in with a wild, ott-of control magi- cal manifestation ora real, honest-to-badness demon from Hell cures them of that.) Anyway, the Technocracy decided that magic was bad forthe world, anditsetaboutcuring that particularill.Ifthatmeantkillingor convert- ing mages,stamping out nativecultures and. rewriting history itself toeliminate the traces oflegend.... sobeit. PROLOGUE: THRGYGHA'DARKEMED MIRROR IP ATER AVAVKMRNART) Ti TIT ni nO a Magic's on the way out. Thescientists who think that reason is asaferfool have madesure of that. ITAGICAL SOCIETY Let's $et out of here. My warding spell can only [ast forso long, and Ican'texpect you to absorb all of this if wespend the evening sitting in a refuse-strewn alleyway. Somewhere that we can sit fora while— late-night restaurants are perfect for that, sort of thing. [know one not far from here. What, you still think I'm spewing a bunch of crap? All right. Watch this. \_ Pretty damn impressive, huh? You don'tsee people conjuring fire much these days, [1's just too damn hard. You could doit, too, but there's a price. Come on;I can't keep this up, and if you're gonna evade theTechnocracy, you've $otta listen and learn. Pet right about now something in the backof.your head iskicking you and telling yout@lagree with me, too. I'll get to that later. Anyway. The Order of Reason sure put ™ thesmackdown on mages ofall sorts, and ithurt. The Dark Ages bloomedintoa Renaissance of possibility, but the Order $ot pretty-ugly. Mages started to see their native cultures and magical systems dying outas people became more hostile tothe very idea of magic. Naturally, the magi- cianson the losing side had todo something about this, so they finally did what the Order of Reason had done: They $0t organized. Essentially, one of the largest magical cabals of the era contacted a bunch of other groups under a flag of truce and put outa message saying, “These other $uys are kicking all of our asses, so it's time tocut the shit and pull together.” A [ot of squabbling and infighting followed, but as one magical site after another fell tothe Order's sterilizing influence,the mages of disparate heritages put aside their differences. Eventually they agreed on a coherent system by which they could work together and discuss their forms of magic. This new group became the Traditions, espousing the heritage from cultures across the globe. The Tradition Council set about consolidating the resources of the Tradition mages and propagating their magigal styles. ining their assets, they man- _ aged to stave off total destruction ff was al fate, théugh. The Traditions stillthadn't focused on the comny impetus behind if. One'loss fo} ion. The war of magic ert commonpeople to their ways of thinking, wi: s Beem Technocracycon- versely stamped outall traces of magic frdgmevery culturéit encountered. The Tradition Council went throughs ups and downs, butitsufferedsome ofits nastiest defeats by themodern age. Mililof the old Tradition Masters are dead or gone. Thetechnologiéalagéhas firmly entfiamiched itself in a disbelief of magic. Con- tact with thespirit world and the forces of filmpical energy has become progressively harder andanote dangerous. Even the bestiliaicians left have only a moderate un- derstanding of what we're doing. Itt ~ The Traditions try to keep magi@alive orlé that doesn't even know about it. If you hear thatcall, you'll become one ofaiggand you'll join the fight for magic, too, So why join the losing side? A QUET LITTLE WAR By now, you may actually be willing toacceptthat there's such a thing as. “magic.” You've seen it in action and you've got that na$¢ing itch in your soul that tells you it's real. Still, the Traditions sound like a bunch of crazies trying to dredge up old, dead history while the Technocracy’son the cutting edge. To some degree, such a view is even true. The fight between Technocratsand Traditions used to be called the Ascension War It was a no-holds-barred battle to see who'd shape hu- man destiny. Would the Technocracy convince everyone thatscience was all there PreLocue THRevsHA’DARKENE Mirror 13 is to the world, or would the Traditions let the world know that reality is as fluid asthe air they breathe? By now, you can probably tell the Traditions have lost. Here's the kicker: Back in the day, the Traditions had itall, and they fost it be- cause of their own pride. The Celestial Chorus tried to commune with God, butit fostered a church that was deaf to the needs of parishioners. The Order of Hermes posited a powerful formulaic version of magic, butit was accessible only toa tal- ented few. Verbena practice a form of blood magic that'sdownright frightening. Given their relative indifference to normal people, it was only natural thattheyd lose out when the Technocracy gotthe backing of the whole press of humanity. Once, the Traditions hoped to bring back a mystical way of looking at the world, Mages wanted 16 release their magical powers again and turn back the ‘Traditions, people. The Tech- nether realms, wie yamine fit into neat little categories i: it world. where nobody had to isks, inati thingsteeuld set better. And peopiitlikedi Every mage Bine pretty potent ~ uff, and I'm not going tosneeze at it. The Technocrats, though, convinced themselves that their way was not only better, but that no other way could pos- bly be good. They decided that their judgment was superior and that they would make the decision for humanity of what was right, what was $ood and what was gone, gone, gone. People don't want change any more. People don't want to have tothink, to use theirimaginations, to aspire to anything more than mediocrity or to open their minds to possibility. They just want regular meals and an easy life. ‘Now, there's notreally anything totally inherently bad about regular meals, but thestinger is thatthe Technocracy doesn't think that people have the responsibili to choose anything else for themselves. The Technocrats believe thatonly they ca make that decision for humanity, The real problemis that, now, nobody wants to 14 Mace Tie Ascensiéir accept anything new. Think about how longI've been hammering at you to accept that magicis possible, even with itstaring you right in the face and with your own new awareness screamin¢ that you should believe. Now imagine trying fo convince six billion moronic couch potatoes of the same thing. Good fucking luck. And yet, there's the rub, as it were. The Technocracy can't make any new super- science these days against this monolithic tide of apathy. People just won't accept it. Look at the outcry against cloning, or the total Jack of interest in the space program. Humanity has chosen to live in a world of crap. It's a least-common- denominator dystopia, and neither Tra nor Technocrat can jar these six billion lumps of flesh from the ‘That's why the Ascension War red they've chosen absolute slack-assmd these days. The Technocracy still wan turn to buteach other The way thing even tell the difference. They still har keep from getting ground in the ¢ that we're notso caught ‘upin bringiy thinking Youcan'tconvincemeshat and believe whatever you want That's thesecret to whatm4 tthat freedom, magicis goingto die, and itsgoingfotakeal e A @gence that exists with it ‘tcare. recommend anincon- spicuous corner where my e won't carry toomuch. Allright, I'vestuffed ad with magical practices, the Traditions and the Technocracy, this war for humanity and the shaping of reality itself I can tell from that ¢lazed lookin your eyes that you're gonna need = some coffee and a few days to absorballl of this, so I'll wrap this up. You're one of us now. You may turn your back on magic, butif'll always be there waiting in the sidelines. Better you should learn todo something with it than to justletit sit or $et out of control, ‘We arén't the only workers of magic out there. The world is overrun with all the artifice of magic, if you know where to look. It's hidden, yeah, and it's ing out, sure. Still, it's there. We can sometimes show it to people, pull back the veil a little and let them realize that the world is more glorious than they PReLecUE THREWGH ATDARKENED MTIRRER 15 want to believe. We can protect people from the fantastic creaturesailid pow- ers. We can even decide to leave this world behind and head out for something new. We can't leave the magic. All of us have the potential to become something better. We don't know what, exactly, but we all feel the call. You'll start to get it, too, in dreams or hunches or aymares. Maybe the rest of humanity won't wake up, butuntike the cattle, you've $ota choice. You can decide'o let “rational thought’ rule your world, or youcan accept the risks and rewardsof magic. All you have to do is believe. The Traditions can teach you, help you to find a way to use yourmagic and 16 reach your potential. The Technocracy could do the same, but only on its terms. 1 can'tmake that decision for you. The factthat you ve Awakened means that you've $ot the insight to make that choice— or no choice at all— for yourself. Welcome to a wider world, kid. hope you survive the experience. 16 Mace THe AScensiéitr Wieck, with Kathy Ryan, Stephan Wieck. Ct Andrew Greenberg, Mark Reine Hagen and Travis Willams New Edition Authors: Rachel Barth, Dierdet Brooks, John Chambers, Ian Dunteman, Marty Hackleman, Jason Langlois, Angel McCoy, Kevin A. Murphy, Jon Snead, Scott Taylor, Rachelle Udell and Lindsay Woodcock Additional Contributions bys Andrew Botes, Kraig Blackwelder, Bruce Baugh, Phil Brucato, Jackie Cassada, Ken life, Richard Dansky, Geoff Grabowski, Rob Hatch, Clayton Oliver, Kathy Ryan, Nicky Rea, than Skemp and Rich Thomas Development: Jess Heinig Editing: Carl Bowen ‘Art Direction: Aileen E, Miles Interior Art: Richard Clark, John Cobb, Joe Corrons ceve Ellis, John Estes, Langdon Fo Michael Gaydos, Rebocea Guay, Jeff Holt, Mark Jackson, Leif Jones, Jeff Laubenstein, David Lert, Vince Locke, Larry MacDougall, Matthew Mitchell, William O'Connor, Steve Prescott, Alex, S Christopher Shy, Ron Spencer, Drew Tucker Cover Art: Joshua Gabriel Timbrook Front and Back Cover Design: Aileen E. Miles Layout and Typesetting: Aileen E. Miles Playtestng: Bruce Baugh, Andrew Bates, ason Belanger, Brooks, Ryan Casper, Alex Caton, Scott "Beast Maco bre” Cihlar,Kwei-Cee Chu, Kieran Dewhurst, Brian Goodson, Huey Hoague, Joseph M. Jones, Jesse Means, Brooks Miller, Brett Murphy, Charlie "Here" Patterson, Richard Stratton, Chenaya Strutton, Eric Tolle, Dave Weinstein, Kathy Weinstein, and countless others who may not have been named hers, but whose contributions are remembered To those whokeepthe magic alive. You know who youste. The DiscLaimier (As ALWays) Mage: The Ascension is 2 gume. I'S a game about ‘marure themes and difficule subjects. As such, ie requites not only imagination but common sense. Common sence says hat words in an imaginary game aren't suposed wo be ral (Connon sense says that you don' try to do "magic spells based on a creation derived entiely from someone else's imagination. Common sree sys that you don't try todigup agents ofthesupematral just because of piration n some ‘bol fictional source, Common sense sys that i pune is ut fr fn, and that when ifs over is ime to pu away Ifyou find yourselffying inthe face ofcommensense, then put the book dawn, back away slowly and seck professional help. Fortherestofyouenjoy the unlimited possibilities of your imagination 735 Pak NORTH BLYD. SUITE 28 CLuRKSTON, CA 30021 USA CANE STUDIO © 2000 White Wolf Publishing, Inc, llrightsreserved. Reproduction without the written permission ofthe publisher isexpresly forbkkien, except fr the purposes of reviews, and for lank character sheets, which may be reproduced for personal use only. White Wolf, Vampire the Masquerade, Vampire the Datk Ages, Ma ¢ the Ascension, World of Darkness and Aberrant re registered trademarks of ‘White Wolf Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. Werewolf the Apocalypse, Wraith the Oblivion, Changeling the Dreaming, Hunter the Reckoning, Werewolf the Will West, Mage the S rusne, Wraith the Great War, Trinity, Initiates ofthe Ary ide tothe Technocracy re trademarksof White Welt Publish are copyrighted by White Wolf Publishing, Inc asters of Inc. Allrights reserved. Allcharacters, The mention of or reference to any company or product in these page is nota challenge tothe trademark or copyright concemed Thisbock uses the supernans for entertainment purpose only. Reader discretion s advised. Fora free White Wolf catalog cll 1-800-454-WOLF. Check out White Wolf online at forserings characters and! themes. All myst and supernatural elements are ction and intended hutpiwirw-white-wol-com; alt. games.whitewolf and rec games fp storyteller PRINTED IN CANADA 18 Mace Tre Ascension athe vty deat . eee MAY. ETUC ata Tr Bava ee mien sy dugarss vanities ba let iy THE AS CONTENTS PROLOGUE INTR@DUCTION CHAPTER @NE: A \X/@RLD @F DARKNESS CHAPTER TW; THE TRADITIONS (CHAPTER THREE: CHARACTER AND TRAITS CHAPTER FOUR: THE SPHERES CHAPTER FIVE; RULES CHAPTER Six; SYSTEMS AND DRAITIA (CHAPTER SEVEN: A HISTORY @F THE ASCENSION W/ AR, (CHAPTER EIGHT: STORYTELLING CHAPTER NINE: ANTAGONISTS APPENDIX EPILeGUE Contes 19 SABIE at i" i ET TE Me) doa held in dusty tomes, then rillanda fantasy: re what you see is what yout Except that it's not. A the everyday pi with the proper in world exists underneath, ay that only those rnnunicate with this other layer sce a world far diferent aicy itself. from the picture ofthe commoner. Theit belief sha wledge look for rules tothe universe, but only a leven when theie actions remain unseen » the understanding that the only rules are the ng their ov rules through mages vie for their individual visions of ule reaches into every belief of mankind, nib ad all humanity doven a single, unified path. The very plieve sthe focus of war. Humanity’sfurure restsin the for Ascension, whether as an InrRepucTeN 21 i SEW AO eee i PX GES Base "d i ty jane ‘STORYTELLING ‘Asan ancient art, telling stories is a community endeavor. People come together to tell legends and tales, and to learn. A storytelling game like this one les you and your friends make ‘your own stories. Mage: The Ascension is White Wolf's game cof belie, heroism, hubris and enlightenment; With these rules, you can make stories abour your own mages and their destinies, ‘The rules of this ook show you how to build character —am alter-ego in the game —and then tell a story with that character. Each play play. However, this story isn't pre-sripted: each player de scribes what his or her mage saysand docs. In the world ofthe ces on a tole, much like an actor ina szame, each mage has his share of triumphs and tragedies. The of that tale is the fun ofthe game. Ofcourse, the outcome ‘of the story is no more set than the courses of our own lives. In some cases, then, the mules in this hook offer guidance for resolving situations where chance sways the tale. The impor tant thing is to develop the character's personality and capabilites through the course of events. Remember: The name of the game is storytelling. Rules are just convenient constructions for adjudicating. chance ‘occurrences with some consistency and faimess. The rules aren't the point ofthe game, so they should always give way to a mystical, rousing story. THE TIEASURE OFA ITIAGE Inaworld like our own, the most thrilling roles tare the ones that differ fi ways, while still reflecting some of our key beliefs and desires. Each player in a Mage game takes on the role of a magician who can bend the very shape of the world through word and deed. [e's an imaginary world not far removed from the one in which we live, buc the players haveroles ofthoserare humans who can change ‘that world (and themselves) through an insight beyond anything known to the everyday person. THE AWAKENING Although many people stay for years to unlock the mystic secrets of the universe, only a tate few open their eyes and Awaken totheie individual truths. No one formula or path can. dictate Awakening; thisawarenesssteikes where t wll, without distinction. The mage discovers that she possesses the ability to shape her own destiny and to turn the world upside-down by dint of wll and practice alone. cn us in significant ‘Awakening can strike suddenly or gradually. Some mages just “wake up” one day, jarred into a new insight through some traumatic event —or no event atall. Others experience aslow heightening of awareness, a winding road of hunches, inklings nd feelings that lead co eventual enlightenment. Either way, the supplicant steps intoa wider world. Once Awake, there’sno turning back ‘The Awakening opens a nascent mage to the power 10 shape magic with his Avatar, but it does not bring practical knowledge automatically. Pushed by visions, dreams or sub- luminal impulses from the Avatar, many such mages seek out an understanding of their strange new awareness. Through ‘a Tradition, they discover tech- niques and forms to control theit magical powers. Magic, in turn, makes its self-tutoring or training ark on the mage. Events twist in strange fashions, and the mage finds himself irevocably set upon a new road, on which mystic events and chance oceurrences become the norm. 22 Mace THe Ascension caviy ates BN peed jegia veya ‘SEEKING ‘Once Awake, the maye's Avatar is not content 10 rs Instead, the mage finds himself driven to greater and greater ‘eight of understanding. Confronting his own fears and fal- teste mage ses tothe challenge an pases through che ite to become a tempered forged soul —or he falls awed in the arcempt. In dicams and quests, the mage grasps for higher knowledge instinctively ‘Some mages eschew their Seckings for temporal power ot smateial gain. Others cloister themselves from society, the better to explore their inner natures. Regardless all are driven to justify thir belies. Although magic beings power, itsprings from wisdom. Magic is change, both of the world without and the magician srithin. From such change, the mage is honed to 4 more sublime state, willingly or not. Through the fitful Avatar, the mage may find himslfdiven into aSeekingat any time, striding through spist-pusles and dreamlands ina seach for inner meaning or the conquest of pesonal aw Eventually, the mage learns from Seekings and passes beyond the frail concerns of human existence. He puts old foibles and problems aside in the pursuit of a more perfect form. Ascension isthe end ofthis path, but few mages ever go sw far. Many never pass through the fites of their own faults. Some are tempted into an easy path to power. Others die before they can muster true understanding. Those who cannot devote time to the practice of magic choose to spend their lives im service, strife o hiding instead. Some pur aside Ascension for a different existence as spirits or even gods nce none return ftom Ascension, there's no telling where it leads, bur the glorious revelations that come with each Seck- ing show that Ascension must be a potent ending indeed. Perhaps mages believe in this ideal because, in a world of darkness, the greatest enchantment is hope SAGE, SAVANT, SCHOLAR Mages often lead humanity by envisioning new and differ ‘ent ways toshape the world. Arthe same time, they stand apart, marked by theie eccentricities, alien views and magical occur ASCENSION W/AR Inrrepucrion hag VEL yy . ee 4 wn Mabe EC Hae Baten Tt they choose wobe derelict. Theircaretakerspresson with more difference than any other ne human. The Technoericy’sh ark of mystic Theidealises who ist as firm as it chinks; mages stip. am jon to the world, to give everyone the superstition, bringing belief back to the masses and subverting xperlative understanding, find that the very the world of science to their uses. With the Ascension War no longer eare. The war forthe Ascen- over, mote mages ask whether it was an important war, Wd is ove science while the o bring Asc worth fighting — or whether it’s more important to help individua ‘whole world ar once: In cof the new millennium, How To Use THIS Book part, humanity seems Each chapter ofthis hook details diferent aspect of th erile technology In such a game fom telling stories to creating characters to resolv word, the hate rages now forthe Ascension ofthe individual, Tule asus, You should skim them inorder chen before magic isl d where they can, instead of trying to chang And yet, a few ma flict are rheust the mag Some want toupen the doors ofp raise up all humanity with the re, seek and learn. Still others desire a Rens hey can create a new froncier andi br test. F content in its womb of safe and Others want only the best and bri a the areas that interest you. Let your imaginati Sil. Hore amp nieRuese Sa les are concrete, and all of them are intended hea lost cause, The Ascension Chapter One: A World of Darkness examines the wo in which mages battle for Ascension. And Where mages once f the Darkness is more than just the world we see. [ta al ideas, now they fight on Ea human causes, Evenifthe ean'therurned back tothediys abstract magical principles or places of power. of magic, there ae still chings wort fighting for. Young mages Se ratty tedieas uae Each Trad codified through ship in ups; where once theie Trade ste at mages found impor a eeraat ara ceil ceities of practice and cultural refinement existand theyre still places where mages might makea greater _-_, Chapter Three: Character and Traits explains the rules ding a character and on the building 4 Mace THe Ascension Het NET te yegig sy bee le for them, Here you'll find detailed descriptions for describing ‘your characters and defining them in game terms Chapter Four: The Spheres elaborates the powers of into nine Spheres, each corresponding to a specific facet of reality. The abstract and practical applications of magic are all explored here Chapter Five: Rules is the simple set of mechanies for moderating your games. This framework shows how to use ten sided dice to resolve random events if you don's have a story-related ourcome in mind, Chapter Six: Systems and Drama describes specific ways to apply the res ro certain game situ ins of the typesof events that may come up in play, with some siggestions on how to resolve them, CChaptoe Seven: A History of the Ascension War outlines the workings of mages from time immemorial to their mxern struggles. This beoad painting provides a backdrop toplace your chronicle in an evolving millennia-old struggle. Chapter Eight: Storytelling provides advice for Storytel: xs on shaping compelling and entertaining tales. You'll also discover ways to draw characters into the game and suggestions fn thems Chapter Nine: Antagonists lists host of problems and enemies that plague modern mages. Here you'll find descrip. tions ofsome ofthe other creatures that stalk the night, and of the fearsome power Last, the Appendix providesa selection of ptional ules to spice the game up with some additional flavor. ions. Here you'll totaled descrip moods and clasical story elements. heybringt besragainst workersof magic. has fa May VE MTA SeuRCETIATERIAL Mage draws is inspiration from countles sources of mys- tical wisdom, erudition and ever quackery. Even in the real world, an interest in the mystical has run as an undercurrent through nearly every culture. Look to the pages of history for myriad examples of magical belie jteratute, look to the books that posit the full of, or that show the mystic archetypes ty Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Mainte- The Book of Five Rings, The Once and Future King, Brief History of Time and jost about any historical work you ean get ‘of magical practice your hands on. Magic stems from belief, aftr ll Mages don’t figure as prominently in film as they do in literature, ur there are plenty of examples of people changing the world hrough force ofbelieforperception. Check out The Matrix, Practical Magic, Dark City, Cast a Deadly Spall, The Raven, Rashomon, and even less Iuminary flicks like Zardos, Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight, The Wisard of Spe ‘Time, Legend or Grossworlls. The television shows of Kung Fi, G vs. E, In Search Of, Poltergeist: The Lagacy, Friday the 13th ‘The Series, Quantum Leap, The Tuilght Zone and The Outer Limitscanall provide some interesting (ifoccasionsllyxkdbal) inspirations as well ‘and The World of Darkness itselfis well-captured in many of the aforementioned movies, as well as scenes irom films like ‘The Crow, Barman, Nick Knight, Foar and Loathing in Las Veras and Mission: Impossible The Man crossed his legs and folded his hands. In his lap, the notebook re- mained closed, a single yellow pencil placed precisely atop. An amicable puzzlement echoed on his face, and he simply regarded his counterpart fora few moments. The prisoner chose not to speak. Hesimply glared from the confinement of his chair. Dull silvery bands held his arms and feet in place and the sterile room's beige walls and dull brown carpeting offered neither inspiration nor assistance. The prisoner glared at The Man. After a few quite moments of indecisive staring on both parts, The Man picked up the pencil, flipped open the notebook and cleared his throat. “Understand that I am not here to hurt you, to break you, or to tell you that you are wrong. You are here because you made an important choice— you chose to take control of your own life. In doing so you took a step that most people never will.” The Man regarded his notes, then met the eyes of the prisoner. “You.chose to indulge your own fantasies with this gift. You chose things that hurt other people, things that are dangerous to mankind and incomprehensible to the masses of humanity.” The prisoner glowered but said nothing. “Twill nottell you that these things are wrong,” continued The Man. “To you they are certainly real. I will tell you that what you've done is careless, and selfish, and hurtful to people. You used this choice to break against the strictures of soci- ety, to attack our Order at the expense of common people. And I ask: Was this because you were so consumed with self-revulsion for these choices that you lashed out to distract yourself from your own failings?” The prisoner shook his head violently, but had no words. GSTHIC~PUNK The term “Gothie-Punk” best des bel he World ince as wealth nd privilege mix in the panoply of fear and cultural contlct we decadencamn- fkness. Violen icked, squalid cities, people dance and while away (0 ignore the urbe of the downtown seene fear the chaos bubbling beneath th oftheChurch, the halsofjusticeandthea strive fo lives of comfort and refinement mingarchitecture iseverywhere, chased watches over the dispossesed. » the buildings that achievements, Punk nihilism echoesin the overpov ind like jugueriauts t0 ingdespairc ingde camsdestroyed,Ignoredby society, thelessfortunate rebel. The upper clases revel decadent in their wealth while ging, criminals, che insane and the deprived maraud through ‘crumbling neighborhoods. The buz of technology is nearly over: wheliing.asdisenfanchisd groupstevolttheough shocking displays of bruralty, at faith and mysticism. The word careensdown afast, track to self-destruction, and everybody wants an exape. ‘Through the descriptions ofthe game, the Gethic-Punkserting provides a di feeling fa desperate, edgy world come through in the action, while net ambience. The Storytellers narration lets the norced toabandon Ear, asthe gerous to perform in th ity: Younger mages must band coy survival andeven those who don't choxse za char their uniqueness makes them stand out from the erowd. Mages are a society unto themselves Since they're so diferent from the normal humans that onding to their own surround them, mages naturally pola standards. Mages measure one another by their prowess with ‘magical feats, the strength oftheir destiny and the ideologies to which they ling. A mage'sskill with the magical arts determines the respect she can command in mage society, while her style of cletermine the groups of mages with whom, es who cary on the belief of ancient societies or ores fall into the headi magical practic she works. M of Traditions, while the CHAPTER ONE A WERLD GF DARKNESS 29 AM \ 8 a Ab atandt philopher scientists of progressive reason fall ino the ranks of the Technocratic Union's Conventions, Beyond these bound: ss too insanely wrapped up in their own belie to interact withthe sane world (Marauders) ancl those who sl their hopes ofenlightenment in exchange for the powerto bring about nization to protect them, they're inst the wall when trouble comes. ‘There's no room left in the hectic world for fence-sitters. chosen to throw in with the Traditions, ancl a very few with the THE NINE TRADITIONS To numerous auspicious numb ina nine-pha spicit. Base. cycle it represents the perfection of mind an the Order of Herme to the magic of Eayp formulae, brought wether the mystic Traditions to form 30 Mace The Ascension Rape ae we: “ad ‘The Council of Nine Traditions attempted to harness this destiny. Throughout history, unfortunately, it has failed to fill the mundane world and its trappings — has heen the rule through most of its history. Fora time, there was hope. Recently, with the addition ofthe ts were filled. The Council was ini culm, and ts memberstrulybelieved thar they could ppesition through rumeraloical the! aivinaton, desi ancembasis on personal recom —the latter mare appealingto ‘Sleepersthan the conformity the Technocratic Union espoused — 1e would provide the necessiy advantage to win the Ascension Wat. 1 mutual protection from The Council of Nine ‘ ound where mageso differing Council baile what should be a grand alliance ions, working to ereate a world where each, 110 choose her own path. person is TROUBLED TIMES ‘The Council lost mest of its experienced leadership in a ravers casually. The forcing subele applications of their ars, Even worse, no one has heard from the old! Masters and. Archmages since the last known communiqué from Ho Many who were on Earth have simply vanished. A few have been found, but most must flee the stringent Earth realm where their very magical existence incites disastrous consequences ‘The mages left on Earth, mainly new initiates, diseiples and adepts, have been lefeto their own devices. These mystics fight a desperate guerilla war against the Technocracy, likely hoping in vain to strike a telling blow and survive to find personal Ascension. However, many have begun to lose hope and drop out of sght in faver of pursuing personal goals. THE Ties THAT BIND The Council has never been a unified pillar of strength Rather, nine separate colirns that serve fo support a much ‘reat whole. Each column is of fferer desi, bur all share ‘common elements, suchas the belie in personal Ascension and the feedom fo humanity to choose its own path, The Councils flagship oalhaslongheen co restoremagic tothe worldand being hack the mythic ages of okd. Most Council mages, however, understand that this goa va literal impassbry. The world has become so entrenched in science that itno longer acceps mas Many iealistic young mages still believe that there is hope that there is some way to exploit the increasingly obvious cracksin the Consensus an fill her in with magical ways and philosophies, that chee laws can be exploited to restore the magical times of old. Others believe instead that i is necessary to finda new path anda new world. They undesta thatthe cold ways are forever gone from the Masses, if not from the “Traditions. These disident voices believe that they must adape thei ways to the Consensus to better exp