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Tome of the Watchtowers: A Guide to Paths
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/20/2016 10:15:35

Every mage has his story of how he Awakened, generally involving an immersive vision of their Watchtower, a mystical and extremely personal experience. In the opening fiction, a group of young mages - who initially think they are facing certain death - share their stories and through them find what they need to save themselves.

Mages use symbols and imagery a lot to describe the Supernal Realms in ways that help them make sense of it. This begins, unknowing, with their dream of Awakening, but as time passes and they learn more about what they have become, their imagery becomes more focussed and they grow in understanding of what they see. This is not a book which a mage could read, but it is one their players should: to understand what their mage character makes of his experiences, what he understands and how he sees it. It's different for everyone, of course, and even people who are of the same Path won't view it in completely the same way, although there may well be similarities. For those who want to revel to the full in the mystical internal development that being an Awakened mage brings for their character, this book will enable them to share something of what their character, in his alternate reality of the game world, feels.

The book is made up of five chapters, each concerning one Supernal Path. Each contains lore, the history of that Path... and also indications of how mages on the Path view those who follow the other Paths. There's history, rites, notes on character creation, all manner of information to help you really get into the skin of your character. It's all legend and supposition - but things that your mage will have heard and read. Whether or not he accepts them as truth is up to you (and him).

The concept of a discipline - a vow taken and kept - is also introduced. In game mechanical terms, it provides the mage who keeps his vow faithfully with extra Mana. But a wise choice of discipline can shape a whole character, mark him out as distinctive. It's a bit like a religious vow or restriction - just like Mormons choose not to drink tea or coffee, or Jews to avoid eating pork. It's voluntary, and can be something that a whole cabal decides to adhere to, or just a single mage who feels the need to impose such a stricture on his life. Once taken on, however, it pervades everything and breaking it can cost a lot more than Mana - loss of relationships, of standing, and more. Take a discipline on with caution... and then role-play it to the hilt.

It's a bit difficult to know just when you should read this book. When creating a Mage: The Awakening character, you choose his Path along with everything else, yet in the alternate reality of the game, the Path chooses him rather than the other way around. The information about his Path will be acquired along with much more during his initial training, something most games do 'off screen' even when intending to start with new and inexperienced mages... mages who know nothing at all are not much fun to play, after all. Best they have acquired at least some knowledge of their new capabilities and learned a few rotes before the game proper begins. So sometime during the early stages of the game, as the character learns, so do you. Of course, that only applies for the first time you play the game. Next character around, you might well pick a different Path so have a whole new lot of stuff to learn... and try to forget some of the old, which a fledgling mage of another Path won't know! The age-old issue of character knowledge and player knowledge.

Yet for those who really want to understand their mage and play him to the full, this is an excellent resource replete with lore and beliefs and suppositions and half-known histories. Revel in it and use it to inform your role-playing!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tome of the Watchtowers: A Guide to Paths
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Grimoire of Grimoires
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/16/2016 11:36:54

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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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Grimoire of Grimoires
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A Day Dark as Night (Exalted 1)
by Ismael A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/13/2016 00:34:04

This story is an evolution of Exalted stories. Written after, perhaps instead of the previous three volumes, it does a better job of presenting the setting and characters. It uses iconic characters to a better degree, and seems to be more confident in the space that it explores. Perhaps that is merely thanks to the familiarity that the authors (and audience) were able to develop with the setting.

That this book is free makes it an excellent entry point to the setting, and the writing is excellent.

This is a fun romp in the Exalted setting, and it reads smoothly while giving you a wonderful snapshot of Creation.

5 stars.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Day Dark as Night (Exalted 1)
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New Wave Requiem
by Ismael A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/13/2016 00:28:13

This is kind of a neat era book, with a more focused scope than normal for White Wolf. It's a bit irritating that the product was basically started as a joke, but then given a modicum of legitimacy, or at least that is the way that this book reads. It retains a fun element to it, though, and it is an echo of what Vampire might have been had it come out in 1985.

That having been said, it is short, and probably not worth the price at which it is currently listed. It is a novelty product, at best, and while it is informative enough, you'd really do better watching the Lost Boys and anything by John Hughes back to back.

I do like this product, but it can't really decide how seriously to take itself. If you ask me, any amount is too much. 2 stars.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
New Wave Requiem
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The Books of Sorcery Vol. II - The White and Black Treatises
by Ismael A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/13/2016 00:17:14

In brief, this is a great product, and probably a very vital one if you plan to play 2nd edition Exalted. I dislike that the black treatise is associated with necromancy despite that not being the case in the game setting proper. To me that feels like lazy marketing, but that is a relatively minor quibble.

The actual content is clean and crisp, but it is also the victim of the rushed design cycle of its time, as was the case with many other such products.

When all is said and done, this book is great for any game, especially for Storytellers, and is rightfully on many lists of must have books for 2nd edition Exalted.

4 Stars.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Books of Sorcery Vol. II - The White and Black Treatises
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Astral Realms
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/12/2016 07:28:29

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.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Astral Realms
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Exalted Second Edition
by Ismael A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/08/2016 01:30:22

It is hard to say much about this book that hasn't been already said, but I'd like to give an opinion that has the benefit of hindsight. I still rather enjoy this iteration of Exalted, even if it is woefully unsupported. Despite whatever misgivings that people eventually grew to have about this edition, it worked just fine, and probably continues to work. The issues came when it surpassed Essence 5 and... well, if this review is for someone who never picked this book up, let me say this. Do you want to play a demigod that can eventually punch out dragons and sway nations? This is the book for you. The 3rd edition is still in its infancy, and I'm sure you can find people to play this edition. Even now, the book is beautiful, is chock full of comic book pages, is beautifully laid out, is all color, and does a great job introducing the system and the setting. 5 stars.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Exalted Second Edition
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Daughter of Nexus (Exalted)
by Ismael A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/08/2016 00:39:39

Despite the fact that the short adventure format is now defunct, this initial foray into actual adventure design is refreshing, given that Exalted (and White Wolf as a whole) tends to either shy away from adventures, or does large sweeping and vague adventures that are neither centralized nor suitable for one or two sessions.

So Daughter of Nexus is the remedy for that. The story elements are down to earth, relatively speaking, and it is highly relatable, which is great for a group just getting started. Second edition Exalted eventually became plagued with the idea that demigods were only suited to fight things that could swallow continents or punch new grand canyons into existence. This product broke with that concept, and was the better for it.

The format was an interesting and loose guide to a chain of events that could unfold in potentially any order, and went well with the less linear style of play that White Wolf espoused.

All in all, this adventure is great, and studies an excellent design space that is seldom explored in Exalted products. 5 Stars.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Daughter of Nexus (Exalted)
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Making of Exalted, The (Artbook)
by Ismael A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/08/2016 00:30:47

Though I never was able to get my hands on the original Exalted special hardback, this art book was always a very fascinating look into the genesis of the original Exalted setting and system. There is a lot of insight, some rough and early sketch art that eventually inspired a lot of the thematic feel of Exalted, and of course commentary that helps explain it all. If you want to understand the history of Exalted as a developed role playing game, you must buy this book. For this price, you'd be crazy not to.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Making of Exalted, The (Artbook)
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Manual of Exalted Power: Dragon-Blooded
by Ismael A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/08/2016 00:28:44

Even after all this time, the book still holds up and presents amazing production values, a great system (for its time), and some amazing artwork. For being the first of the Exalt types to come out after the core book, they did a great job. There were some hiccups due to some production problems, but even with that, this book holds up as having been one of the cornerstones of 2nd edition Exalted. A must have for 2nd Edition Exalted players, and potentially even 3rd edition until they release a new Dragon Blooded book for that edition.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Manual of Exalted Power: Dragon-Blooded
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Sanctum & Sigil
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/05/2016 13:07:50

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.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Sanctum & Sigil
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Boston Unveiled
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/04/2016 12:26:46

Opening with some evocative fiction that tells the tale of a lonely girl on a nasty cold and wet evening, who finds strange people down back alleys she hasn't explored before and the promise of something more, then the Introduction lays out the nature of this work: a setting sourcebook for what is intended as the home and setting of Mage: The Awakening, the city of Boston in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Even if you know Boston well, this is not quite the Boston you know. Building on the information provided in the core rulebook about the city, this book looks behind the scenes at the intrigues of the Awakened world and provides inspiration for many a chronicle, with plot ideas a-plenty. It is a place replete with history and rife with secrets… just the sort of place in which mages can flourish - or perish.

Chapter 1: Maps and Legends takes a look around, but it's not the sort of guidebook that a tourist would find useful. Starting with the local Native Americans, it's naturally a good place for those who would work magic, with ley lines in profusion and other features which any willworker might appreciate. Even once colonists arrived from Europe, there were those who picked up on the local characteristics and began to build their power. But sometimes the landscape itself fought back, and sometimes malign spirits were summoned by accident or intent, not all was well. Yet these early days were exciting ones and many seeds were set and organisations founded and alliances forged that began to shape the landscape of today.

Next, Chapter 2: Cabals presents some of the better-known groups of mages to be found in Boston, along with the politics and enmities that provide for alliances and rivalries. It's a place full of history, with several hundred years of cooperation and conflict setting the scene for today's Bostonian mages. Just as regular Boston society tends to the stiffly formal, so does that of the Awakened. A local mage may navigate this uptight society with ease, but a newcomer will find it difficult, baffling even. Mages who Awaken in Boston are welcomed and nurtured, shown around and properly welcomed by exisiting mages - whilst this is a benefit, it can drag a fledgling mage into local politics before he's really ready or has even had a chance to decide where he stands. There's plenty of detail here, with many groups for mages to join or to oppose, people to ingratiate themselves with, who might become trusted friends and mentors or bitter enemies. Absolute heaven for those who want to play a social game jam-packed with intrigue and political manoeuvering.

Then Chapter 3: Renegade Mages takes a look at some local inhabitants who do not fit into regular arcane society. There are quite a few Banishers - perhaps stemming from the city's Puritan past - who are presented in considerable detail ready to come after your mages. Story ideas are littered through this book, and there's a delightful one here: an old Chinese mage who rarely practises magic these days has just realised that a young relative has not only Awakened but taken up with the Banishers, so to whom will he turn for help? There are other individuals and groups here too. The Scelesti use their magic to their own unsavoury ends, and others follow their own agendas as well. And then there are the Sleepers. Some of them can prove problematic too - there's an overly-curious journalist, for example... be cautious how you deal with her!

This is followed by Chapter 4: Off the Map which explores local spirit realms and other places of mystery. As you can imagine from such a historical place, there are plenty of locations that resonate, and this chapter provides even more plot ideas - overt sidebar 'story hooks' and those that spring to mind as you read over the entries here.

Finally, Chapter 5: Beast of Burden provides some plot to get your adventures in Boston off to a flying start. It's aimed at a young cabal yet to establish themselves (but could be run with more experienced mages if you beef the antagonists up a bit), with a Tibetan student asking for help in combating a monster he says ate his master when an experiment went wrong. Taking the action from the docks and through the streets of the city, there's plenty of mythology to explore as well as fights to be had - a good adventure to get the cabal involved in Boston society as they aren't the only ones interested...

Boston makes a good base for those who want a political game, yet there is plenty of scope for people who prefer more direct action and even those who wish to pursue a scholarly approach to their magic. Indeed, there's something for everyone here... all rooted in the fascinating city that is Boston.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Boston Unveiled
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Silver Ladder
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/03/2016 08:11:41

Treason, plots, conspiracies, networks of power, political manoeuvering - the opening fiction sets the scene for the essence of Silver Ladder belief: that it is a duty for those blessed with magic to seek power and wield it responsibly, using both other mages and sleepers as tools to achieve their goals. Power and influence make them tick, and all those studies are but means to an end rather than a route to personal enlightenment.

Chapter 1: Hand Over Hand discusses the history of the Silver Ladder, starting with chaos and the establishment of order - by people working together, by individuals of wisdom and power taking the lead and directing the others. The dream of an ordered cooperative society draws members of the Silver Ladder on, a dream that has them at the pinnacle of society, of course, wielding power. Many legends and stories are told to reinforce this concept, that those who rule must be the ones who are most fit to rule... but who decides? That's where it gets interesting!

Next, Chapter 2: The Silver Dream examines the internal culture of the Silver Ladder, their philosophical approach and the way in which they organise and regulate themselves. At its core, the Silver Ladder regards every member as a prince in search of a kingdom to rule and seeks to equip him to take his place at the head of the Awakened, for if only those mages would just work together under proper leadership, just think of what they could accomplish! Their entire philosophy is wound around this concept.

Then Chapter 3: An Enlightened Crusade takes matters further, looking at Silver Ladder society and practices, and even their rituals. They see themselves as leaders and moral guides to the rest of the Awakened and work towards getting themselves into positions where they can exert influence and control. They don't see themselves as aristocracy despite their conviction that they ought to be the people in charge. This chapter looks at how they select and recruit new members, and at what said new recruits find once they are inducted into the order. It also talks at their controversial use of Sleepers.

This is followed by Chapter 4: Factions and Legacies, which looks at the various groups that all vie for power within the order. Unity of purpose does not mean a shared view of the methods or even the goals that should be pursued, and so this is perhaps the most politically active of orders with different groups vying to push their ideas - by debate, by subterfuge, by brute force... it doesn't really matter at times. Tread carefully through this morass, pick your way through the myriad groups... plenty of scope for those who like lots of intrigue and political manoeuvering in their game.

Finally, Chapter 5: Magic explores the resources at the Silver Ladder's disposal, including spells and artefacts. Their techniques tend to the traditional, conservative even, but this gives their style the weight of history, and of course the methods they employ are tried and tested ones, none of this experimental stuff, these magical fads. Very much the Establishment in a wizard's gown!

The Silver Ladder is an intriguing organisation, power-hungry yet with purpose beyond just being top dog or amassing power and the wealth that often goes with it just for its own sake. If your players like intrigue and politics a chronicle built around this order might work well, but nobody is safe from being caught up in their machinations - mages can get involved whoever they might be, as pawns or standing up in opposition to what they view as an abuse of power or a wrong-headed idea. Even if they don't play a big role in your game, they ought to be muttering along somewhere in the background...



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Silver Ladder
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Banishers
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/01/2016 12:53:09

Opening with some fiction, a disparate tale about strange killers (which would be improved with a clear font and a less-heavy background, a combination which makes it hard to read), this work deals with the Banishers, those who have Awakened but become twisted, turning against other mages and magic itself. They are a varied bunch, their hatred of what they are making it difficult to build up much of a body of tradition, indeed many turn against their magic soon after they Awaken and so are self-taught in what they use... for even whilst eager to rid the world of magic, or at least other mages, they continue to use their powers to their twisted ends. They tend towards violent ignorance, driven perhaps by a fear of powers they do not understand, a fear that turns to hatred.

Chapter 1: The Purpose looks at how Banishers arise in the first place. Known as the 'Timori' or fearful ones, their origins are unknown although a matter for some speculation by the other Traditions who'd quite like to see the back of them so study them closely... yet some accuse those who study them of being secret sympathisers to their views. Nobody knows their origins for sure - and this includes the authors of this book, who leave it up to each Storyteller to decide for themselves what is really going on! What is known is that they can turn up everywhere and anywhere. Some hide as cults, others study magic more openly, others appear not to study it at all, at least not in public. Some see it as almost a disease, some claim that people with particular attitudes towards matters mystical are predisposed to become Banishers if they Awaken. Lots of speculation, no real conclusions. Do Banishers choose their path? If they don't it changes them from villains to victims - it's up to you! Some Banishers only become such later on in their magical career, having previously developed as normal. There are, of course, many theories as to how that happens as well. This chapter also provides templates and rules for creating Banisher characters and the sorts of organisations they might join and beliefs they might hold. These are clearly intended for NPCs, but there's potential for a twisted chronicle that focusses on a group of Banishers if that's what you want.

In Chapter 2: Weapons, we get down to detail: spells used by Banishers when about their deadly (well, if you are a mage anyway) work. It's quite a copious collection, and reading through them spawns quite a few ideas about how Banishers could cause problems to your mages. There are also artefacts - including a neat 'Permit' which appears as if it gives appropriate authority to the Banisher wielding it (similar to Doctor Who's psychic paper), sonething any mage might find handy - and imbued items available for their use.

Next, Chapter 3: Cults and Cabals presents some sample organisations for Banishers to join, groups which may make trouble for your mages as they go about their normal business. They are all developed in considerable detail and one or more can easily be infiltrated into wherever your mages live, possibly innocuous-sounding until they make a move against them. This chapter includes fully-developed individual Banishers, complete with game statistics, ready for use or as examples when developing your own. Ideas for using them, possibly spawning an entire chronicle or just an adventure or two, are scattered throughout. Excellent reading if you are contemplating adding Banishers to the mix in your game.

Finally, Chapter 4: Wielding the Witch-Hammer looks in more detail at how you can use Banishers in your chronicles, based on their view that magic is a curse, and mages are the perpetrators. They are definitely not good guys, if only because of their unwillingness to accept that others hold different views from their own. But it also addresses the challenges of actually playing a Banisher, and goes into more detail about creating Banisher characters, this time with an eye towards player-characters rather than NPCs.

This book raises some interesting ethical questions, ones that can be used to make a group stop and think - Mage: The Awakening is quite a contemplative game anyway, but analysing this quirk of opposition from within is thought-provoking. It's interesting to speculate about the reasons why a Banisher is the way he is - even if you are running like the clappers to get away from his latest murderous assault at the time! For of course this is not a purely philosophical standpoint, it's an all-out war on mages fought from within their ranks, quite different from the squabbles that arise between more ordinary mages jockeying for position or defending a pet theory. There's scope for excitement, real danger... and above all, epic storytelling.



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Banishers
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Castles and Covenants
by Misha Z. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/19/2016 08:51:21

Downright false advertising. This book does NOT contain any rules for creating strongholds. Do not purchase if you want to make your own strongholds - you're better off grabbing some d20 or GURPS book on the subject.



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Castles and Covenants
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