Install this theme
johndarnielle:

you skeleton warriors didn’t take the possibility of a moonlight-powered anti skeleton warrior amulet into account when you were putting the battle plan together, did you? real bush league stuff there fellas

This is the best flavor text for turning undead EVER.

johndarnielle:

you skeleton warriors didn’t take the possibility of a moonlight-powered anti skeleton warrior amulet into account when you were putting the battle plan together, did you? real bush league stuff there fellas

This is the best flavor text for turning undead EVER.

Mage: the Awakening: Performance, Dramaturgy, Ritual, and Magic

image

Thoughts on last night’s Mage game:

We have a lot of Big Themes running through this chronicle, some of which were planned and some surprising: the desirability of ecumenicalism, the hubris of reaching for immortality, the melancholy of a historical moment like Rudolf’s court, magical and special yet already in an inevitable decline into the chaos of future war, and the wish for our PCs to build a magocratic utopia or at least sanctuary — but one minor theme that keeps popping up again and again is the idea of mundane performance as magical ritual and the unintended consequences of releasing memes into an intellectual milieu that is receptive and indeed starving for new ideas.

The first instance of this was a prominent public performed autopsy based in historical fact. It wasn’t planned to be a ritual, but a Guardian of the Veil in our PCs’ Consilium used the energy of hundreds of people plumbing the mysteries of the human body to enact a long-term ritual meant for his own personal glory and enrichment and, almost incidentally, the glory of Emperor Rudolf. This early session foreshadowed the importance of watching the big, meaningful events among the Sleepers for clues to resonances with the Supernal.

One historical note: bringing the Rosicrucians into this game in the years before the historical appearance of the Manifestos was a conscious choice on my part. In the years prior to the 1610s and 20s, the seeds of Rosicrucianism were being planted in the German-speaking lands, by men like Maestlin, Studion, and yes, even Kepler to a certain extent.

Last night’s Imperial Command Performance of the opera of our group’s vampire Renaissance Man was scored by Michael Maier, a real historical occultist and purported Rosicrucian. It integrated the story of the rise and fall of Pythagoras in a mix of Greek tragedy and early operatic style to warn the good people of Rudolf’s court that tyranny of thought is a dangerous thing. A new and dangerous idea, especially in a Europe on the verge of the Thirty Years’ War. As such, it contained powerful symbolic/dramaturgical methods of communicating these ideas, not the least of which was the use of a magic lantern to project images high-impact memes (in the form of emblems) onto the backdrop of the stage. It was, essentially, an Awakened ritual with blanks left in, a palimpsest for both the viewers or any Mages in the audience to scribble onto.

So of course the Seers of the Throne tried to ruin the entire thing and attempted to spark the Thirty Years’ War a decade-and-a-half early.

The Seers’ mission, to foment chaos among the Sleepers and keep them enslaved, is utterly perfectly-suited for this period in time. As our Pentacle PCs keep trying to achieve brotherhood among all learned men, the Seers want to mire Prague in sectarian infighting, suspicion, fear, and the political machinations that characterized Rudolf’s real historical court. And in Lóránt’s opera, as well as in other vulnerabilities in our cabal (the lack of a Spirit mage, as our cabal’s Thyrsus is being punished by having his Awakened magic locked away), they saw an opportunity to plant ideas in the audience full of nobles and courtiers, ideas inimical to our cabal’s: Esoteric ideas like basic disagreements between Protestants and Catholics on the nature of Christ, and visceral ideas, like a united Christian hatred for Turks and Jews.

Our PCs won (at a cost, obviously, this is one of my games we’re talking about here: the two Consilium members who had used a shortcut to immortality are now compromised by the Seers/had voluntarily given up their immortality and finally died their natural death, and so the PCs are lacking important allies in this fight against the Seers) but more importantly they now realize what a simple, seemingly-mundane event like an opera can do. It can change minds, it can send ripples out, it can tap into archetypes and patterns as-yet-unseen.

Which should prepare them well for when they visit Shakespeare’s London. :)


Tim White

I don’t know what this image is, but I want my next game to be based on it.

Tim White

I don’t know what this image is, but I want my next game to be based on it.

asks:
Well, since you raised the comparison, what about alignment? assuming you're talking classic law/chaos good/evil here

johndarnielle:

Well, this is the beauty of gaming: your alignment doesn’t have to be the same from game to game. In this way it’s more like actual life than identifying with one crest/banner/house/etc: you go through different phases, you go out on different campaigns, sometimes you’re who you most want to be and sometimes you gotta be honest about where you’re actually at. Sometimes you’re not actually focused on the quest, you just wanna get in fights. I relate to lawful good these days, but I spent my time rocking chaotic neutral. I believe in growth, so I don’t think there’s a single alignment one holds throughout life. I also think it’d be cool if there were room for blended alignments like “lawful/chaotic good” because lawful good dudes still sometimes wanna break a couple windows someplace while yelling “Come to the Sabbath!” in a totally wicked voice

This obviously needs to be reblogged onto my gaming tumblr, no question.