Umbral Domains: Mage Paradox

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Paradox (revised)[edit]

My feeling has always been that since paradox should basically be universe trying to justify or cover up vulgar events. It just doesn't make much sense to me that the universe would use anything like vulgar magic to cover up vulgar effects, that's like cutting off your nose to spite your face. So I'd have any manifestation of paradox be as coincidental as possible. Sort of like dramatic and annoying (or in some cases deadly) “Copperfielding" after the fact. More of an inconvenient reparative effect rather than punitive effect.

To simulate such a system the following alternate system for Paradox was written. This system is also intended to mesh with the Quiet system provided here, although neither system technically requires the other to function.

In attempting to maintain causality and the will of the Concensus, static reality often comes into conflict with the effects Mages attempt to create. But the Concensus does not act rashly or haphazardly in doing so. It tries to work subtly at first and only failing that does it escolate it's use of force to preserve the status quo.

The measures taken by the concensus in maintaining the structure of reality adhere to the following progression of priorities:

1) Prevent[edit]

It's just tougher to pull off a magical effect with the attention of the consensus on you and it's will directly opposing you. This form of passive suppression can help prevent paradox from ever occuring.

System: Basically this is just the effect of the normal magic difficulty system on p. 148.

If the effect fails normally then no paradox or backlash is registered. A botch does have effects though as listed below.

2) Repair[edit]

Tends to either cover up effects after the fact, or causes the effects to fail. Usually both in inconvenient ways, but not directly retributive ways. Smaller or more subtle magical acts just get lost in the noise and aren't necessarily "repaired". More vulgar magics generally bring about a series of unexpected dramatic but coincidental side-effects to erase the evidence of their magical nature.

System: Paradox is generated based entirely on the degree of vulgarity, botches, and witnesses, rather than being linked to sphere level. Paradox generated equals:

Base paradox

0 Paradox - Effect is indistinguishable from natural or "normal" events, only the mage sees the true cause.

1 Paradox - Effect is within the realm of coincidence but a little odd (rolling dice a particular way 6 times in a row).

3 Paradox - Effect is definitely beyond majority expectations but could be explained clever behind the scenes setup (i.e. minor special effects), moderately plausible prototype technology, cryptozology or other mundanely rational effects.

5 Paradox - Effect should clearly impossible according to modern expectations. If an effect of this sort could be faked through conventional means it would take resources a couple orders of magnitude in excess of those needed to accomplish a similar type of task through conventional means.

Modifiers (apply only one)

+1 Paradox - Botching

+1 Paradox - Sleeper witnesses

x2 Paradox - Botching with sleeper witnesses

Paradox dissipates in the form of backlash very soon after the effect is produced (often within moments). However, a point of temporary Willpower can be spent to prevent backlash from occurring, but if this is done the Paradox remains until bled off. Botching does not dissipate accumulated paradox.

Backlash (revised system)

Rather than the old instant karma style, "Backlash" is now just the inconvenience produced as reality untangles it's self. Paradox is a measure of the magnitude of anomaly and so determines the degree of inconvenience produced as reality tries to cover up the effect. Backlash is no longer just for botches but happens automatically every time a magical effect is produced on Earth.

Quintessence spent on an effect does not reduce paradox, but each point of Quintessence spent does reduce the effects of backlash as if one point less of paradox had been gained.

Effects of Backlash

1-2 Paradox - No significant effect. Paradox dissipates harmlessly with little or no noticeable effect.

3-4 Paradox - Minor effects. Paradox is noticeable causes some inconvenience. Might cause something small to break or something significant to malfunction at an inconvenient time or a +3 to Difficulty for situational reasons, etc.

5-7 Paradox - Significant effects. Paradox is moderate and causes some serious harm to equipment, possible bashing or lethal damage, temporary loss of abilities or actions, etc.

8-10 Paradox - Massive effects. Vash the Stampede! Paradox is severe and causes powerful (though coincidental) side-effects. Major destruction of equipment and facilities, injury, attribute loss, or even death.

Again, keep in mind that this backlash doesn't necessarily cause inconvenience directly for the mage, but it is likely to affect one or more people nearby in some troublesome way, and more likely than not a friend.

3) Isolate[edit]

Things like Quiet and Arcane reduce the mage's impact on the universe at large. They distance the mage either physically. They either physically distance the mage from sleepers a bit or at least keeping most vulgar magic away from sleepers.


Arcane (revised)[edit]

Arcane allows the mage's impact on the consensus to be gradually minimized over time. As the consensus forgets about the mage and her physical impact on the world is gradually washed away the bad credit she generated is also eliminated. The price, unfortunately, is anonymity and difficulty in interacting with any Sleepers (or un-Aware) beings over multiple contacts. As a "stealth enhancer" Arcane only works against unawakened beings. However, a mage loses a number of temporary Paradox points equal to her Arcane score every day.

Quiet (revised)[edit]

For Details on a system for Quiet check here.

4) Eliminate[edit]

The consensus does have a collective consciousness and will work to eliminate sources of persistent vulgarity. This consciousness is not easily roused and directed against a particular source, but it can happen when a given thing (i.e. mage) is consistently the source of too much paradox over time. Elimination is normally done in one of two ways: The mage is abruptly (though coincidently) ejected into the umbra, or paradox spirits are dispatched to do the mage in. However! Paradox spirits don't appear as bizarrely powerful entities wielding vulgar magic, since vulgar magic is what the consensus is trying to minimize. Rather the paradox spirits take the form of seemingly ordinary people, objects, or events which simply seem intent on eliminating the mage. If these spirits can be gotten rid of the mage might bet a respite until their next use of vulgar magic.


Paradox Realms[edit]

Characters who achieve 10 ranks of Quiet, whether temporary, permanent, or both get ejected into a Paradox Realm. This is the closest that static reality comes to producing a vulgar effect on it's own. If they can get bleed off any paradox at all may escape and wander the Umbra. Those who can't lower their Quiet below 10 get to live in the world they've built.

Paradox Spirits[edit]

When a character accumulates 15+ points of Paradox, or 5+ ranks of Quiet, the Paradox Spirits start coming for him. If the character can eliminate a given set of Paradox spirits he might be safe for awhile. This can be difficult since the spirits are just as likely to embody dangerous situations as they are to take the form of distinct individuals. Paradox spirits always appear to work through mundane means and coincidences. In addition to making them consensus friendly it also makes their traps and ambushes a bit more difficult to spot.

--Peter K. 20:55, 11 June 2006 (PDT)