Orignially posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2022/09/100-days-of-halloween-witches-and-pagans.html
I adore the RPG Mage. Mage: The Ascension, Mage: the Awakening, Dark Ages Mage, and most of all Mage: The Sorcerer's Crusade. The witches of Mage, the Verbena, get special treatment and I am here for it. The Witches & Pagans book covers them in detail.
Witches and Pagans
PDF. 96 pages. Color cover, Black & White art.
The cover art is by Christopher Shy who practically defined the look of many occult and supernatural RPGs of the late 90s and early 2000s. So regardless of the actual game, this looks good on my shelves; both real and virtual. All the interior art is by Richard Kane Ferguson.
Chapter I: History
This chapter covers "pagans" as they might have existed in the World of Darkness if they had survived to the Renaissance. If this is a bridge too far for the history buffs out there a quick reminder this is a game of world-changing magic in the hands of mortals.
There is a collection of various "famous" pagans, but no stats to start with.
Chapter II: Knowledge
This covers the pagan magics including all the spheres and how the pagan mages would use them. Note it is not just the Life sphere that the Verbena are traditionally drawn to. Additionally, there are new rotes for mages as well.
Given all the spheres and combinations of magic this chapter is fairly long.
Chapter III: Wise Craft
This chapter covers how the witches/pagans see their magic. Central to Mage's theme is that each mage sees how magic works differently. The witches of this time rely on these tools and the ideas in this chapter because that is how their magic works for them. A member of the Hermetic Order or Cult of Ecstasy has access to the exact same spheres of magic, but they approach them very, very differently. This is the heart of Mage. The pagan witches of the Sorcerer's Crusade are even more locked into this frame of mind. While this means this chapter is the least connected, game mechanics-wise and more like mechanically supported fluff, it also means it is what makes this book the most interesting AND makes it the most useful for me in other games.
Chapter IV: Weavings
This chapter gets back to game mechanics in a bit but also covers the roles of the various pagan "witches" that go beyond "The Old Crone," "The Bestial Hunter," "The Alluring Temptress," and "Dissenfranchished Warlock."
I also found this chapter useful for other games to be honest.
One of the themes I like to play with in my games is the sunsetting of paganism against the growth of Christianity. This game plays that out, though 500 years later than I typically do. Still for Mage: The Sorcerer's Crusade this is a wonderful theme and a good one. It is not just Pagan vs. Christian, but Magic vs. Science. Makes for a wonderful interplay of forces.