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Megan Robertson's page

Pathfinder Society Member. 5,943 posts (6,240 including aliases). 574 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 Pathfinder Society character. 2 aliases.



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Our Price: $31.99

Out of print

An RPG Resource Review

*****

The opening fiction is weird, sounding more like the rambling of a deranged mind than a story, but persevere and it will begin to make sense (especially once you realise part of it is the protagonist's own account of his Awakening... or is it?) provided you can cope with the background that is not only a crumpled paper effect but with additional scribbles that make it hard to read. The underlying theme is, I think, just how easy it is for an Awakened mage to fall into the trap of misuing his powers for what seems to be the best of reasons.

The Introduction continues with the concept that once you have Awakened, nothing is ever quite the same. To start with, the magical orders almost literally fight over you. In this book we learn about the Guardians of the Veil, what they have to offer and some of the secrets there are to be discovered. For it's all about secrets with these guys, some say they are the James Bonds of the Awakened world. They see their role as the protectors of matters supernal, guardians of magic itself... and to do that, they need to act like covert agents. It's an interesting - and potentially appealing - point of view. Secerts within secrets, being the arbiter of right and wrong... being a Guardian demands that special arrogance that states that you and you alone know what ought to be done.

Chapter 1: From the Reign of Atlantis launches into early history telling how from the very beginning some mages realised that there was a need to police magical activity and so took that duty upon themselves. This is not 'policing by consent', not something all mages see a need for or agree to, it's a self-appointed guardianship. The primary mission remains the same, to defend magic and mages from the unAwakened, the monsters - and themselves.

Next, Chapter 2: Masque and Veil looks at the core tenets of this order - ones which they do not reveal to outsiders, they are secrecy personified, nothing gets out. Even the various offices and customs of the order are rarely talked about with outsiders... so relish the chance to read about them and should you not be a Guardian of the Veil, don't let on that you have read them!

Chapter 3: Of Secrets and Spies takes things further, explores the process of initiation into the order and what life is like once accepted. It is no easy task to join the Guardians, they require dedication, the willingness to kill for them, a prepardness to die for them... as it is said, the first challenge for a would-be spy is to get the agency of his choice to hire him!

Then Chapter 4: Factions and Legacies demonstrates that, like many an intelligence agency, the order is riven with cliques and factions, petty jealosies and empire-building, no matter how uniform and monolithic they may appear to outsiders. Each Guardian mage has his own individual approach to the order's common purpose, and this is made manifest in the people with whom they associate and the legacies they pass on.

Chapter 5: Magic contains a collection of new spells and equipment, as well as training and techniques used by the order in its self-appointed task. Finally, an appendix provides fully-statted details of allies and antagonists that the Guardians might encounter, or indeed encompass...

Mages wishing to join the order become the Internal Affairs Division of the Awakened world. Perhaps your mages fancy that... or perhaps you reckon that they have attracted the attention of the Guardians (never a good thing) and will have to deal with whatever the order decides to throw at them. Plenty of potential here, plenty of ideas spawn even as you read these pages.


Our Price: $27.99

Out of print

An RPG Resource Review

*****

The classic image of a mage is a fellow in a robe with his nose stuck in a book. The Awakened may or may not go in for robes much - they tend to be a bit conspicuous in the modern world unless you are a LARPer or a member of a religious order (as an academic, mine only comes out once a year for graduation week!) - but books figure large in their lives. However much they may want to be active and hip, they need to study... but what is it that they read?

The opening fiction is (mostly) a mage's diary, in which he recounts a raid on some Seers to steal books on behalf of the Chicago Athenaeum and some really odd effects that centre around one of the books - it's all 'handwritten' and quite hard to decipher, but it's a good facsimile of what mages do most of the time - few grimoires are typeset, let alone available in e-book format, after all! It highlights how some books can be dangerous... and not just for the ideas contained within their pages.

The Introduction talks a little about books in general, then explains that this book basically consists of a collection of some eighteen grimoires each of which is ready to be dropped into your cronicle either to provide information that one of your mages seeks or perhaps as something an enemy possesses and could even be using against them. They can be tricky things, these books - one masquerades as a series of fantasy novels, another changes its appearance from time to time - whilst some of the items listed here are not books at all... one, for example, is a vinyl record!

Of course, the grimoire itself is only part of the story. Mages often need to do research even to find out which one contains the information they are after, or to identify a mysterious tome that has come into their hands. To facilitate this, each grimoire is accompanied by notes about how best to research it. There are plenty of other snippets that should spawn additional ideas about how to involve each of these grimoires in your plots.

The level of detail is quite amazing, and any one of these grimoires could provide the focal point for at least one if not a whole series of adventures. This work provides a novel way of using that archetypical tool of a mage, the book, as an integral part of what is going on in your chronicle and is well worth adding to your collection of resources.


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An RPG Resource Review

****( )

The opening fiction tells a tale of a couple of mages chasing around... their minds? Spaces other than the real world, anyway, yet real enough to those venturing there. It's all a bit confusing, compounded by a heavy background with shadowy images that makes it hard to read in places.

The Introduction tries to explain further, that being Awakened opens access to many worlds that are contained within each individual's soul. Dreamquests and astal voyages are needed to tap their potential... and one hopes that somewhere along their training, lucid dreaming techniques are included. Others can participate in these trips inwards, and secrets can be discovered. The scope of such dreamquests is immense and limited only by the imagination, and it is intended that they should play a part in the chronicles you tell. The theme is that of introspection, reaching truths that are otherwise inaccessible... but they are not safe to travel, either.

First, Chapter 1: Shaping the Mists takes a look at astral magic - how does a mage's magic work there at all, and what spells and rotes will give practical help. As you might imagine, magic doesn't work the same way it does in the real world, and the results might surprise you. For a start the laws of astral space are quite different from the physical laws we are used to, here they become mutable and changeable - sometimes so much so that the term 'law' doesn't really apply any more! Fortunately magic does follow some rules, at least sometimes. Astral space is all about symbols and meaning, so if you can figure those out you have a starting point from which to start manipulating the world around you, however odd it might appear.

Then Chapter 2: Mapping the Impossible provides a guide to the three levels of Astral Space: Oneiros, Temenos and the Anima Mundi. It talks about finding your way around, and describes the wonders to be found. To start off, getting there involves going inwards, deep into your own soul, through there to your dreamspace and deeper still into shared realms. It always feels like a journey, however you get there and whatever you want to do once you arrive. It all begins with a mental exercise, likely different for every mage who makes the attempt. Crossing from your own dreamspace into the shared spaces that are the astral realms takes you outwith your own control and mental discipline.

Next, Chapter 3: Denizens and Things gets down and dirty with what might be found there. Needless to say, not all are friendly and some might be quite surprising! Even in the bits you might think are 'yours' there many be intruders and once you venture forth into shared space, it's likely to be crawling. So here we learn about daimons - constructs that mimic the dreamer and can manipulate dreamspace towards their purpose, which it to 'improve' the dreamer, generally in some ethical or ideological direction. However it may seem at the time of an interaction with your daimon, its intentions are benign, helpful even. Handled with respect, they can be useful guides. There are plenty of examples to give you ideas, but each daimon has to be custom-built for each individual mage. Naturally there are less friendly entities out there, and plenty of detail is provided on them as well.

Chapter 4: Dreamquests contains Storyteller resources with ideas and advice as to when and how you might introduced events involving the astral realms into your game. Basically, you can put whatever you want in there, a blessing and a curse at the same time... for in such complete freedom there lies the difficulty in nailing down precisely what you do want in order to tell the story you want to tell. There is a wealth of ideas here about the sort of stories you might prepare and how to go about it, retaining the weirdness and strangeness yet maintaining some kind of internal consistency that reflects the plot that will unfold. There's masses here to help you plan and run sessions involving a visit to astral space, essential reading if you are even contemplating going there. Finally, Chapter 5: Realms presents some actual places all detailed out and ready to visit... if you dare!

This sort of adventuring may not be for everyone - you may even find that not all of your group wish to engage in astral travel whilst some revel in it. It can however be powerful and thought-provoking, perhaps something to be used sparingly with reluctant travellers, characters who may only visit the astral planes once or twice in their entire lives; but which can be more frequently visited by those who enjoy the experience. It might also be useful when not everyone is available for a game session - those who are there engage in some astral travel, whilst time stands still for the absentees. Other groups may decide to avoid it altogether or make it a regular part of their mages' development and explorations of their own selves. Whatever you decide, here are the tools you will need.


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An RPG Resource Review

****( )

Part of the Dungeon of Terror series, this presents just part of the quarters of a so-called 'mad mage', Infidus the Black, who drove out the creators of this underground complex - a bunch of dwarves - and made his home here, conducting all manner of magical experiments... until an assassin sneaked in and put an end to him! Various other opportunists have moved in since (and nobody's quite sure what happened to the assassin) and the place is ripe for exploration. The part dealt with in this product is part of Infidus' personal quarters, and nobody has breached it... until now. This is despite this area including one of the main entrances to the underground complex.

This area consists of some 27 chambers presented as an overview and then as separate 'tiles' you can print out and use with minatures or other markers. Whilst the plans show all manner of intriguing things - from strange and cryptic markings on the floor to abandoned barrels - it's up to you to decide what they are (or were) and what their significance might be. But there's plenty to conjure with!

0one Games display their usual mastery of PDF technology, allowing you to customise your maps before printing by choosing various options like square/hex/no grid, grey or black fill, whether or not you want doors or furniture and so on. You can also pick which tiles to print from the overview, or just go to have a closer look before deciding.

If actually drawing dungeon floorplans is the bit you find difficult, all the work has been done for you. You just need to decide who lives there...


Our Price: $26.99

Out of print

An RPG Resource Review

*****

The opening story combines the intense political manoeuvering of the Silver Ladder with action, negotiation, power plays and high drama, a riveting read in its own right. The Introduction then draws out the main theme that concerns this book: scanctums. Even Sleepers have homes, places in which they feel safe. A mage's sanctum in so much more, a place to study as well as somewhere to rest, recharge his energies and far more. But in such places you find the bedrock of mage society, individuals and cabals. From there the greater assemblies arise, but the cabal is the core bastion against the Abyss and other threats, and the central point around which Awakened politics revolve. Assembkies and other groupings are made up of cabals, not divided into them. The cabal and the scanctum it uses is the mage's refuge, shelter, the place to return to when the work is done... or when something nasty is chasing you. Sanctum and Sigil, then, starts with the permutations of Awakened politics, from the inception of a cabal and the inter-cabal politics of a Consilium right to the mage's home - the sanctum. It provides details on the inimical opponents that move to hinder such institutions and the magical resources that are used to protect a sanctum.

First up, Chapter 1: The Polity explores core concepts about how a cabal is set up - will it consist of mages from but one order or the more modern pattern where individuals of several traditions join together. It looks at a cabal's protocols, the rules that govern members and the oaths that bind them and the sigil that is their symbol. Then it moves on to the Consilium, the forum where inter-cabal politics play out, and also the 'Lex Magica', the laws that govern mages and their use of magic.

Then, Chapter 2: Pride of Place looks in detail at the physical - and magical - construction of a sanctum. Essential reading when your cabal comes to set down roots. There's also plenty of information about Hallows, ley lines and Demesnes too.

Next, Chapter 3: Pylons and Cults examines how the opposition organises itself. Banishers of course, but also Seers, those lost souls that seek far past Watchtowers into the far depths of mystery - but what do they do and why are they a threat?

Finally Chapter 4: Storytelling explores how to actually run all those political machinations and make them really come to life for your players, get them to care about the outcome. There are also ways to get your cabal into trouble (if they don't manage to find it for themselves) and three sample cabals you can drop into your own chronicles: a Pentacle cabal, a Seer pylon and a Banisher cult. Ready-made rivals, opposition, threats...

This book makes for a fascinating read, but you do need to be well-embedded into Magic: The Awakening traditions and terminology to make the most of it. The material herein will aid you in building a deep, rich, vibrant world for your mages, one in which there is plenty going on and with opportunities for them to get involved (whether they like it or not) at every turn. Drag the more bookish mages out of their studies, make the muscular ones stop and think about the consequences of their actions, devise and run the local power structures of mage society with a sure hand... well worth reading if you want to scale the heights (and plumb the depths) of a living world and make your mages far more that mere spellchuckers but part of a real community that exists just out of reach of everyday Sleeper life.


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