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Mage: The Awakening
 
$19.99
Average Rating:4.2 / 5
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Mage: The Awakening
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Mage: The Awakening
Publisher: White Wolf
by Dean K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/27/2012 15:02:10
Dungeons & Dragons has needed a far reaching explanation for filling their books half full of pages of spells. The Awakening does hold up in this way. It makes it easier to work with magic. I can finally relate to this character class.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mage: The Awakening
Publisher: White Wolf
by Nathan G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/18/2012 17:32:00
The content of this PDF is perfect if you intend to read it from a laptop or desktop computer. If like me you were hoping to be able to utilize it from an Android device expect it to be very sluggish. I wish they would have presented the option to get a light copy of the PDF without all of the pretty graphics paper styling, that would have perfectly met my needs. The latest revision to the PDF is a big improvement, but it is still very sluggish when trying to rapidly change pages to jump to a specific section.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mage: The Awakening
Publisher: White Wolf
by Ward M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/03/2012 19:46:23
Mage:The Awakening (White Wolf) Pages: 404

Overview: A complete overview of the Mage and her role in the World of Darkness setting. It includes the history of magic, the traditions, mage politics, spells, and everything else you need to run a Mage campaign in the World of Darkness setting.

Note: Use of this book requires the 200-page main "World of Darkness" rulebook. The Mage rules rely on concepts that are only covered in the main rulebook.

Likes: The first chapter (about the origins of magic and the history of Atlantis) was truly inspired. The fact that it was stat-free was an added bonus.

Dislikes:
1) The first chapter doesn't start until after a 25-page work of fiction. Not interested--stick it in an appendix and get it out of my way.

2) This system has a steep learning curve, and the book layout doesn't encourage ease of use. Thank God for bookmarked PDF's!

3) While this book does provide an overview of the Mage universe, you'll have to buy additional splat books if you want the details. Each order has its own book, plus the equipment guide, and the antagonists have their own books, too. Want to add Vampires and Werewolves to the mix? That's another two lines of books to add.

4) Character creation is a bewildering array of paths, orders, and traditions. While this allows for widely diverse character types, it is a little intimidating for newcomers.

Other opnions: Stop whining about the bad artwork. If you want good artwork, go to a museum. I want information out of a book, not pretty pictures.

Bottom line: Unless you are a World of Darkness fanboy, this is not your game.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Mage: The Awakening
Publisher: White Wolf
by Robert S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/08/2011 10:16:23
GRUMPY
Greeting from Boston in the new World of Darkness.

A wanderer through the occasional magical door, I move from world to world and when not running role-playing games for some and causing trouble for others, I make podcast columns and reviews of role-playing game material. My companions include legendary demi-lich Acererak and grandmother hag Baba Yaga and we waltz across time and space in Baba Yaga’s magic dancing hut. This is a typical life for a podcaster. By comparison, the guys behind Sharkbone actually are sharks. With freaking lasers on their heads.

This week I will be reviewing Mage: the Awakening.

ACERERAK
I bet the mages in this world a bunch of pikers.

GRUMPY
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce Acererak, mentioned previously.

What do you mean, pikers?

ACERERAK
Real mages and wizards dress like rejects and refugees from… some kind of pride parade, with spiky collars and leather and white after labor day.

GRUMPY
Lots of mages in this world of darkness dress like rejects and refugees from all kinds of pride parades and seem to think formal wear includes spiky collars and leather and white after labor day.

ACERERAK
Oh, well, in that case, lay on McDuff.

GRUMPY
Thank you for your permission to run my own god damned podcast review.

Anyway, released in 2005 – has it been six years already – Mage the Awakening is the current version of White Wolf’s game of darkly fantastic contemporary magic.

It is a 400 page hardcover book, sporting a full color cover and with gold metallic ink type. The interior is two-color, featuring black and gold metallic inks. The interior black ink sometimes smears when touched if the book is new and the gold inked letting is hard to reading, depending on the angel of the light.

As with most White Wolf books, Mage opens with a fiction piece, an in character exercise which serves to introduce the subject matter of the book. The one in this book is par for the course, adequate and not exceptional.

Similar bits of fiction open each of the major section of the book and some of these are good.

Following the opening fiction is an introduction chapter, discussing the book. The next four chapters describe the game world, mages, character creation and how magic works. There are two appendixes, the first discussing enemies and the second providing a sample mage community in Boston – the very place where I am recording this podcast.

Long-time White Wolf go-to artists Michael W. Kaluta provides the lions-share of the art in the book. His art is good, though as the art mostly comes from him, the range of art in the book is narrow.

A good example of Kaluta’s art on page 184 – depicting the magical transformation of kernels of corn into yellow hornets. While it is a solid piece of art, it is debatable why a mage would want to do such a thing.

ACERERAK
Well, maybe if you are at a country western buffet and a fight breaks out and you want to use corn on the cob as a grenade-like weapon.

GRUMPY
That is ridiculous.

ACERERAK
It would be awesome if you could come up with some kind of corn related pun to shout out. Anyway, they kind of look like bees to me.

GRUMPY
What, really? They are totally hornets.

ACERERAK
I think it is a deadly bee weapon.

GRUMPY
Bees. My god.

Where was I?

Mage the Awakening as a White Wolf game in the World of Darkness, uses the Storyteller system. A series of dots on a characters sheet represent the various abilities, skills, supernatural powers and so forth a character possesses. At the time of character creation, player distributes a finite amount of dots as they choose. Experience points allow you to purchase new dots. The number of dots represents the number of 10-sided dice the player may roll to try to accomplish something. This game only uses 10-sides dice and it usually has to use a lot of them. Getting an 8, 9 or 10 on a roll indicates a success at a task – and getting multiple successes is useful. Getting a 10 allows the player to reroll that dice and if they get another success, it adds to their total number of success – and they get to reroll the 10 if they get another. It is theoretically possible to keep rolling forever if you keep getting 10s.

A drawback is keeping track of lots of 10 sided dice can be a hassle, slowing the game down when you roll six or seven or more of them, count out success versus failures and then gather your dice.

Mage possesses arguably the most inventive and flexible magic system’s in RPG's. It does not present a spells, per cea, but a dynamic system. A mage must combine different traits to produce magical effects. The list of the magic traits include Death, Fate, Forces, Life, Matter, Mind, Prime, Space, Spirit and Time. A mage’s power in one of these traits represents their power of things related to that trait. A mage who wishes to hypnotize someone will have to possess levels in Mind, for example. Combining the traits allows the mage to accomplish things – a Mage with the right command over forces and Space will be an exceptional shot, for example.

There are also two kinds of magic; the covert and the vulgar. Covert magic will not appear to be magic to normal people, though other mages will know better. Vulgar magic will appear to be impossible, or magical, to everyone. A good trick shot will likely be covert magic. Shooting lighting from your fingertips will be vulgar magic. Vulgar magic earns the mage something called paradox, which can inflict damage on the mage, or do something like turn their head into a pumpkin.

In this world, mages have many reasons to keep secret what they do.

The strength and draw of White Wolf’s game are the darkly tinted social and moral set up. This was true of the old Mage game and remains true in the new Mage game.

In both games, the nominal moral responsibility of mages is to pursue greater power through greater enlightenment and to assist the general population in gaining, or regaining lost glories and levels of awareness. In practice, mages inevitable fails in these goals for one reason or another, not the least because of the very human traits of vanity and pettiness.

The metaplot in the old game appeared, more or less by accident. Each of the old games presented an interesting dynamic and players and fans asked how that situation came about and where it was going next. The metaplot grew out of an effort to answer those questions – it arose as WW writers began describing how the situation came about and who the major NPCs were, creating a momentum moving the game world along. The new game-lines avoid this, meaning it is less deterministic. For example, in the old game if you played a tradition mage, it was determined your enemies were the Technocracy. The new game is looser in this – if you play a member of the Adamantine Arrow group of mages you probably do not like members of the Guardians of the Veil group of mages, but it does not mean the two groups are locked in a “to the death war” allowing for more flexibility in terms of game play.

However, the lack of a metaplot means the games also lack a built in dynamism. There is something inherently dramatic and enticing about the war between the Traditions and the Technocracy that is missing in the low key fued between the groups in the current version of the game. By way of comparison, there is something immediately understandable and interesting in the conflicts between the Autobots and the Decipticons, between G.I. Joe and Cobra…

ACERERAK
…Between clowns and mimes.

GRUMPY
What?

ACERERAK
Clowns and mimes have been deadly enemies for centuries. Didn’t you know that.

GRUMPY
Back to the review.

The old Mage game presented a conflict between the traditions and the technocracy.

In the old Mage game, if you were a tradition mage, then you were the type that could build a freeze ray or would go dancing among standing stones while your enemies where the Technocracy, those bastards who invented digital watches and credit ratings.

In the old Mage game, If you were a technocratic mage, they were the type to make technology accessible and useful and develop responsible accounting while your enemies where comic-book mad scientists and blood spilling neo-druids.

The new game sells five social or political groups of mages, each group more or less neutral evil. Picture them as five corporations with some conflicting interests but enough mutual interest they do not fall into active and open warfare. In addition to these five groups, there are five magic paths or callings for the PCs – so the book actually provides 25 possible types of mages.

However, the new mages are all, to some degree, like darker and meaner versions of the mages in the Harry Dresden books – the PCs are likely to be rather similar Dresden, though with sharper teeth and colder eyes. Much colder eyes.

The result of this is less distinct variation between one group of mages and another group of mages – at the very least, there is less distinction between the groups in the current version of the Mage game than there was in the old game.

This scenario does not make the new weak, though it is understandable how some might perceives the new game boring in comparison to the old. Ultimately, in the new game most the responsibility for keeping the game dynamic rests with the game master and the players rather than with the writers and the books.

Candidly, I miss dynamism of the old game, with the Verbena, those occasionally blood splattered druids, and the Sons of Ether, those often comic book style mad scientists.

However, the game has moved on and in fairness I give Mage: the Awakening a 15 on d20 roll.

ACERERAK
Say…. Where all the mages around here? This is their base, right?

GRUMPY
They are downtown, with the normal people, rioting wildly around the movie theater as a result of Michael Bay’s “Superfriends” flick.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mage: The Awakening
Publisher: White Wolf
by Marcus G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/12/2009 08:35:42
Very nice.

Pros: it's a digital copy so there are none of the standard issues you usually get with a scanned copy. The bookmarks are pretty good. The story is interesting, the powers are fairly straight forward but with a great deal of grey area for players who want more fine control over what their characters can do. It runs off of the nWoD system so it is streamlined and relatively easy to pick up.

Cons: as with all WW books, the organization leaves something to be desired. Some of the artwork is no good. Otherwise, it's solid.

For those who loved the old Mage game... this is not the old Mage game. This is a new game. While there are a lot of similarities between this one and the old one, don't be confused in thinking that this is just a new version. It isn't. It's something new and, in my opinion, better than the old.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mage: The Awakening
Publisher: White Wolf
by Frank F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/24/2008 03:20:32
It was alright, but could stand to be a bit more efficiently scanned. Some parts loaded slowly.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mage: The Awakening
Publisher: White Wolf
by Daniel A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/15/2006 11:09:14
The setting lacks the depth and complexity that three editions of Mage: the Ascension and innumerable expansions had built up, but it lays a solid foundation. I have no doubt that as the game matures the setting will quickly surpass the old one in terms of being an interesting place to play.

The system is vastly superior to that of Mage: the Ascension, as is the accompanying metaphysic. Under the Mage: the Awakening system many things are clear and straightforward that were the source of endless arguments before.

Hardcore fans of the old Mage will be disappointed at first, because under this system reality is no longer subjective... it's merely objectively very flexible. For other people, that will be outstanding news. Either way, it works very well once you give it a chance.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mage: The Awakening
Publisher: White Wolf
by Nawaf M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/11/2006 10:39:31
1. The mechanics are indescribably better compared to the previous edition, even though I miss the merits & flaws, but if you posess the previous edition and really enjoy that system, like my group does, you can easily adjust it's mechanics to fit this system.
2. The cosmology is logical now. Everyone still has his paradigm, and it can vary wildl. For example the Shadow (former Umbra, though far easier to understand) appears the way the most will-strong mage of a group would perceive it, which can vary wildly. But if there is a door in one version of the Shadow, it's there in every other. The last edition of mage was not particularly logical in this regard.
3. The technocracy's out. I consider this a big minus, but on the other hand, as with merits & flaws, you can simply insert them into your WoD campaign, if you wished. The technocracy wasn't particularly balanced in regards of power, if you portrayed them correctly, which the new antagonists are.
4. The artwork... abysmal doesn't begin to describe most of it. A few rare pieces are beautiful, but many motives wouldn't be fitting, even if they were drawn better. One small plus is that quite a few motives are actually beautifully fitting, though their worse-than-comic quality really drags that positive note down.

All in all, as a former mage fan, I'd vote 5 without a second thought... if it weren't for the art. It really kills the mood for me.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Mage: The Awakening
Publisher: White Wolf
by Mark S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/03/2006 02:41:56
Well - the good news is they improved on the mechanics.

The bad news is the artwork looks like a bad line-sketch comic book art, the cosmology and metaphysics have been broken down into one objective Gnostic truth, paradigm and consensual reality are gone, we've now got a rote 5 cliched splats like every other nWoD game, the game feeling and supplements encourage Indiana Jones pulp style temple raiding (ie dungeon=crawling by any other name) as the primary game adventure, the depth behind Mage was reduced to something more easily understood by CCG and video game addicted d20'ers, and on top of it all....we all come from Atlantis (can't you just hear the Age of Aquarius plauing in the background).

What was once my favorite line of the oWoD is now the laughingstock of the nWoD. I would not reccomend this book or its supplements to anyone who really loved Mage the Ascension or similar games like Witchcraft or Unknown Armies...Better to play an old unsupported game line, than waste your money agonizing over how to revamp this monstrosity of Bill Bridges into something playable...

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Mage: The Awakening
Publisher: White Wolf
by Bryan E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/09/2005 13:34:11
I liked this one, because the rules were nice and clear and the book had the overall clarity of writing and easy-to-learn system typical of the new World of Darkness. That said, I rather miss the Technocracy, but that's no reason to miss out on this rather good book.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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