Mage: the Awakening: Twenty-Five Lighters
Featuring the Scholars of the Lost
A Storytelling Campaign of Ambition and Passion set in Houston, TexasRun by Martys on the RPGnet Forums
 Thread Info
 The Scholars of the Lost
- John Barabus, Mastigos of the Silver Ladder (played by Phigment)
- Diamondback, Thyrsus of the Mysterium (played by Zato-2TWO)
- Locke, Obrimos of the Free Council (played by Nikki6th)
- Ruse, Acanthus of the Guardians of the Veil (played by Lost_Arts)
- Cephisso, Moros of the Silver Ladder (played by Scutarii)
 The Setting
 Overview and Recent History
Now boasting a population of 2.6 million in the city proper and nearly 7 million throughout the greater metro area, the City of Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States and the largest city in the South. Historically the nation's primary hub for the oil and gas industry, the city suffered an economic slump in the wake of the 80s-era oil bust, but soon rebounded after successfully diversifying its economy. Previously ignored by most mages for the first hundred years of its existence in favor of such cities as New Orleans and Miami, after the one-two punches of Hurricane Katrina and then Hurricane Ike (which Houstonians simply refer to as "the Storm"), Houston has now overtaken New Orleans in the number of mages that base themselves in the city.
There are between forty and fifty mages known to inhabit the Greater Houston Area (as a general rule of thumb, this includes the entire area within a fifteen-mile radius of downtown Houston). The Diamond Orders have thrived in the region since the Second World War, with their first wave of migration beginning with the wartime mobilization, the second wave following the general 60s-era Sun Belt migration and the third wave coinciding with the late 80s tech and financial services booms. The Mysterium and Guardians of the Veil are the dominant Orders, having long since concentrated themselves within such Sleeper institutions as academia, the aerospace industry, law enforcement, public services, and the health care industry. The Silver Ladder and Free Council both maintain visibly active presences in the region, with their cabals working together in a shifting web of alliances and mutual partnerships. Most new self-Awakened mages tend to get scooped up by one of those two Orders, though the Silver Ladder is happy to find another home for those mages who don't fit its ideology. The Free Council boasts a larger number of mages and has thoroughly worked its way into the local telecom and energy industries. The Silver Ladder claims the greater number of cabals and has gained a stranglehold over the region's occult communities; its influence over the local religious activists and social justice organizers is no less pervasive. The Adamantine Arrows keep the lowest profile, apparently having suffered a crippling blow in September 2008 during Hurricane Ike. The Arrows are currently composed of two cabals which concentrate on their own projects and rarely ask assistance from or communicate with the other Orders. The remaining unaligned mages number a little less than a third of the total population and either remain completely aloof from the larger mage community, or maintain loose affiliations with the Free Council.
 Places of Interest
- The Maxine Gavriel Collection serves as the physical location from which Houston mages coordinate their activites, air disputes, trade favors, etc. Located on a small private estate in the Upper Kirby District owned by the Gavriel family for six generations, the Consilium consists of a small chapel with a capacity of 100 persons, an art gallery displaying the family's private works, a private library containing various occult and historical volumes, a courtyard with a level 4 Hallow, four spirit Guardians and a permanent staff of eight Sleepwalker acolytes loyal to the Gavriel family. The chapel, courtyard and art gallery are open to the public, but only on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 10am to 4pm.
Y'all Come Back
- A bed & breakfast inn with 14 rooms, located in the center of the Hyde Park District and run by the Silver Ladder mage known as Xenios, one of the city's two Heralds. All nonresident mages intending to remain in the city more than 36 hours must ensure that the Hierarch is aware of their presence, with most expected to quarter themselves at Xenios's lodgings unless another resident mage volunteers to provide his own hospitality.
Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park
- Still stubbornly referred to as Transco Park by locals seven years after the 2003 Galleria expansion that reduced it to a third of its former size, the Hines Waterwall Park sits adjacent to the Galleria retail complex in the Uptown District. Though the park is privately owned, it is open to the public from 10am to 10pm. Until recently, the park was used as neutral ground for meetings between Pentacle mages and Seers when face-to-face meetings were necessary.
- The corporate headquarters of the Saxon Group, the 49-story skyscraper was completed in May 2000. The bottom ten floors are devoted to retail shops and parking, with the next thirty floors containing office space. Floors 40-44 contain a SkyGarden overlooking the north and east, with the remaining floors reserved as private residences for Roderick Saxon and his aides.
- One of the few downtown nightspots consciously targeting the over-30 crowd, the Eternity Bar is frequented by somewhat older mages who still enjoy a wild night. A tri-level venue, the Eternity consists of a small bar at the street level, a rooftop patio and bar, plus a larger lounge and dance floor just below the rooftop level.
- Billed as Houston's only revolving restaurant and located 24 stories above street-level, the Stateroom Restaurant and lounge tends to be the go-to location when higher-ranking mages wish to impress out-of-towners. The circular structure makes one complete rotation ever 45 minutes, giving an unparalleled view of the surrounding area.
- Inspired by a dream, in 2003 the sculptor and architect Dion Murdock erected this obelisk atop a 35-foot crest deep within the forests of Memorial Park, a 1500 acre urban park near the Uptown area. Mages later discovered the obelisk straddles a ley line running beneath the park, and marks the centerpoint of a cluster of Hallows that collectively have a rating of 3. During the winter of 2004-2005, the Lightning Razors chased away a nest of vampires that laid claim to the Hallows and have zealously guarded it ever since.
 The Sanctum
 Melete House
- Constructed during the Roaring Twenties, Melete House is the current safehouse and research center for the Scholars of the Lost. Located on the outskirts of the Museum District just south of Highway 59, the structure is guarded only by the spells of obfuscation and layered mystical wards and traps erected by each of the cabal members.
 Sanctum Stats
- Size 3 (eight-room office building later converted into a private home and art gallery before its acquisition by the cabal)
- Security 3 (protected by mundane locks and burglar bars, plus a set of Indefinite Duration nested wards and traps each rated at Potency 3)
- Library 4 (located in center of upper level; volumes include various grimoires confiscated from enemies, records and maps of global mystical sites, and detailed histories of past Atlantean and mortal sorcerers)
- Hallow 4 (entire library suffused with Mana of Resonance of "studious"; Tass collects in the form of spontaneously-appearing empty books and pamphlets)
 Cabal Associates
 NPCs of Interest
 Ruling Council
- Heirarch: Renee Gavriel (Mysterium)
- Provost Primus: Julius (Guardians of the Veil)
- Provost Secundus: FuX0r (Free Council)
- Herald Primus: Xenios (Silver Ladder)
- Herald Secundus: Jackson Rusk (Silver Ladder)
- Sentinel: Kirpan (Guardians of the Veil)
- Sentinel: Marian Made (Mysterium)
- Acanthus: Laarsen (Silver Ladder) -- Special Projects Coordinator for City Council Member Oreza and primary source of political intelligence to the Consilium
- Mastigos: Logos (Guardians of the Veil) -- leader of the Cui Bono cabal and mentor of Sentinel Kirpan; together with Assita Falls, Logos has discovered or partially initiated nearly one-third of the region's novice Pentacle mages over the last two decades
- Moros: Samael (Mysterium) -- leader of the Verba Non Acta cabal and long-time investigative journalist for the Houston Press alternative newsweekly
- Obrimos: Hsing Sun (Mysterium) -- the Most Venerable Hsing Sun is the current abbot of Guang Tien Di Temple, leader of the Jing Dao cabal, and a sage of the Perfected Adept Legacy. One of the oldest mages in the Houston area, Hsing Sun maintains one of the largest collections of Eastern Supernal lore in North America.
- Thyrsus: Assita Falls (Silver Ladder) -- leader of the Seven Mercies cabal and administrator of the Jubilee Restoration House, a private outreach organization providing a network of transitioning housing facilities and homeless shelters throughout Greater Houston.
 Diamond Orders
 Adamantine Arrows
- Fiery Analemma -- six mages that were the vanguard of the campaign against the Seers in the Greater Houston area. Withdrew to Galveston after the Storm after suffering major casualties during an assault against a Seer pylon operating near the Port of Houson.
 Guardians of the Veil
- Cui Bono -- a self-styled "oversight" cabal dedicated to keeping an eye on newly-Awakened mages and "keeping them out of trouble," Cui Bono also strives to shield Sleepers from any malevolent supernatural influence. Currently guided by the Mastigos mage known as Logos, the Cui Bono mages work closely with leading mages in the region, trading information and other resorces as needed.
- Lightning Razors -- one of the larger cabals in the region, they are composed of three cells of three martially-focused mages that once worked closely with the Fiery Analemma cabal. Most notorious for pursuing and defeating the Mad One calling himself "Kadmon."
- Men of Letters -- organized by five mages of the Mysterium, the Men of Letters cabal is composed of academics from among the University of Houston, the University of St. Thomas, and Rice University. Having recently won acclaim for repelling an incursion of passion spirits on the UST campus, the Men of Letters tend to work alone in order to concentrate on pure research.
- Lone Star Environmental LLC -- an environmental consulting company started by two mages, normally completing contracts for petrochemical firms and providing additional expertise for academic investigations.
 Silver Ladder
- Thalassa, Magna & Assoc. LLP -- a cutthroat PIP law firm founded by Robert Thalassa and Thomasina Magna. Censured for using Awakened Arts to arrange desired outcomes in court, Thalassa and Magna nonetheless evade more adverse action against them by providing pro bono legal assistance to any mage that engages their services.
- Staff & Serpent -- SAS began eight years ago as a local coed service fraternity on the UH campus. After the original founder-mages graduated, they retained the name for the public policy research institute they organized a few years later. Staff and Serpent works closely with Thalassa and Magna, trading networking resources and research for various legal services including harassment and obstruction of their adversaries.
- Jubilee Restoration House -- now headed by Councilor Assita Falls after the assassination of its founder Kortikos by the Seers, the four mages working in this private outreach organization help provide vital services for battered women and children, the homeless, and other souls in desperate need.
 Free Council
- 4-Tay -- a hip-hop collective formed by the rap duo "4-Tay" and their Sleeper associates. Constant touring keeps them in touch with other Awakened mages throughout the South.
- Raditek Consultants -- a private firm providing IT and engineering consulting services along with temporary staffing services, started by three mages just out of college.
 Left-Hand Path Mages
- Order of the Bennu -- reclusive sect of eight mages and non-Awakened sorcerers reported to use an Ancient Egyptian praxis. Content to stay near their communal waterfront property near the Bear Creek Reservoir, the Order has to date avoided sanction from the Consilium, though they resist any and all attempts at intrusion and surveillance with a combination of mundane technology and powerful Mind and Spirit countermagics.
 Seers of the Throne
- Roderick Saxon -- a defector from the Mysterium, Roderick Saxon is the CEO and owner of the Saxon Group, a multinational real estate corporation that is one of the top five managers of office and residential property in the South. The Ruling Council has attempted multiple assassinations of the traitor, but as Saxon rarely leaves the tower which serves as his home and corporate headquarters and is a Master of Fate and Prime, all have failed.
 Banishers and Mad Ones
 Unaligned and Solitaries
- Alessandro Ficino -- former UH communications professor and Silver Ladder renunciate who wages a vengeful hacktivist crusade against hate groups and other extremists
- Haroun -- forensic analyst and disciple of Samael with potent skill in alchemical and Enochian arts
- Fleur de Noire -- trio of transgendered mages notable for their expertise in divination and fateweaving
- Black Fist -- self-styled "professional gadfly" and performance artist who regularly stages demonstrations and protests on behalf of illegal immigrants and other social outcasts
- Saul Gavriel -- chief of staff of the Gavriel Collection
- Simon Gavriel -- liaison to the Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs
- Lluvia Oreza -- Houston City Council member and Chair of the Public Safety Committee
- Special Agent Etta Battles -- Special Agent Battles cut her teeth in counterterrorism and white collar crime investigation. After her promotion to SAC of the Houston FBI Field Office two years ago, Battles proved an able commander and coordinator of the eighteen month probe of AZB Associates.
- Sgt. Jonathan Core -- HPD patrolman placed on medical leave after reporting an assault by "blood-drinking skinhead freaks"
- Francisco Reyes -- minister of the Promise House, a nondenominational agency providing shelter and counseling services to homeless and runaway youths
- An Shen-Li -- music promoter affiliated with the 4-Tay collective; occasional live turntablist and instrumental artist under the alter ego "Surgical Strife"
 Local Rumors and Legends
- A suspected serial killer is stalking the Sharpstown and Neartown areas, with police blaming four ritualistic murders on the killer over the last three months based on the Roman numeral "IX" branded on the back of the victims' necks. So far the victims were all last seen within a few blocks of either the Botanica Eleggua yerberia or the Magick Cauldron pagan supply store.
- Black Fist, the flamboyant Solitary mage formerly associated with the Fiery Analemma cabal, has been spreading whispers to the effect that the Arrows are preparing to emerge from seclusion.
- Younger mages in Southeast Houston report signs of a massive abrasion of the Gauntlet near Ellington Airport, the airfield formerly used by the US Air Force.
- Majority stockholder and AZB chairman Aydin Arvin has gone into hiding days after federal agents raided the AZB home office. Financial analysts predict that the real estate magnate Roderick Saxon will acquire all AZB assets if the company goes into bankruptcy. AZB held the leases on hundreds of acres of retail and residential properties in Pasadena, South Houston, Downtown and the Medical Center.
- Copies of the mysterious recording known as the Hildebrandt Tape are circulating through the Houston underground. Some report that the last three owners of the Tape have either been committed or have attempted suicide.
- Horakhty, the shadowy leader of the Order of the Bennu cabal, is quietly searching for a lost text known as the Book of the Luminous Ib. Some report that the Order will pay as much as twenty pawns of Tass for the text.
- Graffiti defacing a mural on the University of St. Thomas campus: "KADMON BECOMES/OMNIA MUTANTUR/NIHIL INTERIT." Concerned that this may mark the return of the Mad sorcerer Kadmon (whom the Council insisted had been destroyed in the series of magical battles of the nights following the Storm), Heirarch Gavriel has ordered Sentinel Marian Made to investigate, with the authority to "deputize" any mages as she sees fit.
 Misc Info
 Character Creation
- Choose a Path and Order
- Attributes: 9/8/7, +1 dot Favored Resistance trait
- Skills: 14/10/7
- Skill Specialties: 5
- Arcana: 9 dots, +1 dot Favored Arcanum (none rated higher than 4)
- Rotes: 12 dots
- Gnosis: 4
- Merits: 13 dots
- Mana = Wisdom = Resolve + Composure
- Choose Virtue/Vice
- Choose Nimbus, magical tools and flesh out magical style
 House Rules
- I'm using the "To the Limit" rule from Tome of the Mysteries p.168-169, which allows mages to cast an improvised spell of one dot higher ranking than normal, if the mage has at least one dot in all of the Arcana necessary to complete the spell. Base casting pool will always be Gnosis + Arcanum, but the mage must spend one Willpower point in order to complete the casting. Also, the spell is automatically vulgar, and three additional dice will be added to the Paradox roll (which can still be reduced as normal by using magical tools or spending Mana). The Duration of any Paradox manifestations will be applied as normal.
- When using a rote, the Base Paradox Dice Pool as detailed on p.123 of the corebook is reduced by an additional die. So, a mage with Gnosis 3 or 4 will normally not roll for Paradox when casting by rote, while a mage with Gnosis 7 or 8 will have a base Paradox pool of 2 dice in a similar situation. Paradox dice can still be increased by making subsequent castings within the same scene, being in the presence of Sleeper witnesses, etc.
- Havoc and Branding will be the most common results of Paradox. Bedlam, Anomalies and Manifestations will appear only with Paradox die rolls of 4+ successes, but the kind of result and its nature is totally given over to the whim of the GM.
- When attempting to contain Paradox within his own body in a backlash, the character must roll Willpower. Successes on the roll allow the mage to absorb points of Paradox bashing damage on a one-to-one basis. Failure on the roll invokes a Havoc Paradox.
- Human sacrifice gains a number of Mana points up to the victim's Wisdom/Morality rather than Health.
- Additional rotes, new Arcana ratings and increased Gnosis can be purchased only with Arcane XP.
- Special Skill note:
- The Occult skill functions on two levels. The first level measures general Sleeper occult lore, including stage magic, non-Awakened sorcery, and general Sleeper mysticism. The second covers rudimentary knowledge regarding other supernatural creatures. To gain more detailed knowledge regarding supernatural creatures, the character must already have a Specialty in that creature, or perform research and investigation during play to gain it.
- After the game starts, XP cost for acquiring new rotes will be one point per dot.
- Spell Tolerance = Stamina + 2, as opposed to Stamina + 1. Enchanted or imbued items carried by a mage will not count toward his Spell Tolerance limit.
- The "Arcana Mastery" chart on p.76 of the corebook will be ignored.
- PCs effectively possess two dots of Consilium Status and two dots of Order Status, with all the benefits and drawbacks thereof.
- The PC cabal controls a level 4 Hallow and Sanctum pool of 6 dots, with a Library rated at 4 dots.
- Hallows generate their level in Tass and twice their level in Mana each day--i.e., a level 4 Hallow generates 8 points of Mana in addition to 4 points of Tass. However, Mana from a Hallow cannot be transferred directly to a Mage without the use of Prime 3 (thus, oblations will not replenish Mana unless the character has learned a Legacy) except by consuming the Tass itself in some fashion.