Magical Tradition Revised
Author's Note: I set out to do a couple of things with this write-up. First and foremost, I wanted a format that will make it easy to introduce new Magical Traditions to the game. As much as I love the Magical Traditions book, a huge chapter for each Tradition is quite a bit to live up to. I also saw some ideas in some of the Traditions that I'd love to see applied to other Traditions. All of those goals have aligned to result in the following rule-set. Enjoy.
Merit: Magical Tradition (••)
Prerequisite: Occult 2, plus other Prerequisites based on the specific Tradition (described below).
Effects (Mortals): A mortal initiated into the secrets of a Magical Tradition gains a number of benefits, as denoted below:
- Resonance: Places where mortals have performed the rites of their magical tradition can actually alter the Resonance of those places. Individuals who participate in these rituals, items used in the rituals and the places where they are held more readily reveal themselves to fellow practitioners of that magical tradition. Divinations, aura perception and similar effects simply work more effectively when performed on such targets by someone who also practices that tradition: Instant checks gain a +2 bonus to the roll, while the Target Number on Extended checks is reduced by 2. Mortals with the appropriate Magical Tradition Merit using Thaumaturge Merits may reduce any penalties to their ritual roll by 2 as well.
- Sleepwalking: Mortals who possess the Magical Tradition Merit are considered Sleepwalkers for the purpose of witnessing the casting of Tradition Rotes by Awakened magicians. Mortals with this Merit may also purchase the full Sleepwalker Merit by paying 14 XP (rather than the normal 20 XP).
- Unseen Sense: Mortals who possess the Magical Tradition Merit are considered to have the Unseen Sense Merit, but only for the purpose of being aware of magics of their tradition. Mortals with this Merit may also purchase the full Unseen Sense Merit for Magic by paying 6 XP (rather than the normal 12 XP).
Effects (Awakened): A mage initiated into the secrets of a Magical Tradition gains access to a number of benefits, as denoted below:
- Tradition Rotes: Some rotes are designated as Tradition rotes, steeped in the magical symbolism of a mortal magical tradition. Such rotes may be cast in one of two fashions: as a normal Awakened rote, or as a Tradition rote. Any magician may use the rote as a normal rote. Casting a rote as a Tradition rote requires that the caster adhere to certain limitations, requiring the use of certain foci, casting it in a given environment or at a certain time, or while speaking a given language. Failure to cast the rote with these limitations in place does not prevent the magician from using the spell - it simply functions as a normal rote, with none of the benefits listed below.
- "Tradition Skills:" Tradition Rotes are always encoded in one of the Tradition Skills of the Magical Tradition he follows.
- "Sleeper Acceptance:" When the Storyteller is checking for a Paradox for a vulgar spellcasting, he does not add the +2 dice bonus for Sleeper witnesses.
- "Conditional Duration:" Tradition rotes benefit from the Fate 2 "Conditional Duration" modifier (see Mage: the Awakening, p.150), whether or not the mage knows Fate 2.
- "Spell Tolerance Mitigation:" The first Traditional spell cast on an individual does not count towards that target's Spell Tolerance.
- Resonance: The Tradition magics of an Awakened practitioner can alter the Resonance of a target, as described above.
- Ritual Leader: An Awakened mage with this Merit may gain a benefit from having mortals with the Traditional Adept Merit (see below) aid him in the ritual casting of Traditional Rotes.
Merit: Traditional Adept (• — •••••)
Prerequisite: Mortal, Magical Tradition Merit, Occult rating equal to Merit rating
Effects: A mortal initiated into the secrets of Magical Traditions can also learn the Tradition Rotes of that Tradition. Such an initiate may spend the normal XP to purchase a Tradition Rote, just as a Mage can (though no Arcanum in the rote may be rated higher than his rating in this Merit). Though he cannot touch the Supernal Realms at all, he can aid the Awakened who can, helping them to anchor that power that is drawn down. When the Awakened magician casts a Tradition Rote as an Extended spellcasting, he may allow a mortal character with this Merit to assist him. The mortal must spend a point of Willpower to assist in such a fashion. His successes are added as dice to the ritual leader's spell, as with a normal Teamwork effort.
Many such occultists believe that their own performances of those rotes have some kind of power. Anytime the mortal performs that rote ritually, taking at least one hour to do so, he regains a point of Willpower. If he scores an Exceptional Success, he regains two Willpower.
Advanced Magical Tradition Merits
The basics of practicing a magical tradition are expressed through the Magical Tradition Merit itself. The following Merits reflect an increased immersion in the magical tradition, learning to find the deep Supernal understanding reflected in the secrets of those traditions, and to perform feats of magic that less-enlightened magicians cannot. Each of these Merits is rated at least three dots; to purchase them, however, the mage's player need only spend 6 XP, effectively increasing the rating of the base Magical Tradition Merit, rather than purchasing a whole new Merit. These Merits increase in a similar fashion to the Fighting Style Merits, requiring the purchase of lower levels before higher ones may be gained.
Appalachian Granny Magic: A back-woods style of hedge magic found mostly in the rural eastern and southern United States, Appalachian granny magic seems to be a syncretic outgrowth of the folk magics that came with the Pennsylvania Dutch, the Scottish who settled the Appalachian Mountains and Native American beliefs.
Hermetic Magics: Inheritors of the high ritual magic of Hermes Trismegistus, hermetic magic is one leg of the tripod upon which the Western Occult Tradition is built. Hermetic adepts focus on planetary magics, alchemy and the summoning of spirits - elemental, demonic, angelic and planetary - in order to perform the Great Work.
Kabbalah: The second leg of the Western Occult Tradition, Kabbalism originated in Jewish rabbinical mysticism, practiced by only the most learned of Jewish scholars. Over time, however, the philosophies of Kabbalism found their way into general western occultism, albeit in a different form from that practiced by Jewish mystics.
Spiritualism: Popular during the Victorian Era, and drawing on a number of esoteric traditions, the core premise of spiritualism was that the spirits of the beloved dead hovered near those who remembered them fondest, and those with the proper sensitivities and open mind could perhaps commune with them, either listening for their speech, acting as a channel for them or even imploring them to manifest openly.
Taoist Sorcery: An ancient system of occult practice, Taoist sorcery rose through the sublimation of folk magics with the principles and philosophies of taoism. These syncretic secrets, which incorporate high ritual, interaction with a bureaucracy of spirits, the practice of martial arts and the channeling of elemental qi, mixed to form a tradition of magic well-revered for the miracles it produced.
Templar Mysteries: At one point, they were given unlimited power by the Church in return for their discoveries and sacrifices in the Holy Land. Within a few generations, they were declared anathema by the Holy See, but their great treasure was never found. Many occult societies have claimed to carry on their legacy: the Masons, the Rosicrucians and more. Delving into the ethos of sacrifice at the heart of Christian theurgy, adherents of Templar magics are well-versed in battling the most wicked things: both in the world at large, and in their midst.
Witchcraft: A primal, Mystery-based tradition of magic, witchcraft looks to the natural world's cycles - the spinning of the earth around the sun, of the moon around the earth - for its most potent symbols. Witchcraft's central ethods - that divinity is immanent, to be found within Earth, Men and Women, rather than in some distant Heaven - taps into an ethos of personal power over the elements of the world.
Brujeria: Mexican and South American witchcraft. Though it includes aspects of healing, it is also concerned with cursing, love magic and dealing with wicked spirits. Brujeria long ago rebelliously embraced demonic and Satanic symbolism, more as a spit in the eye of the Catholic Church than any genuine belief in the devil.
Curanderia: Mexican and South American spiritual healing and protection against evil magics and spirits. Highly syncretized with Catholic ritual and symbolism.
Druidry: Modern practice inspired by and reconstructed from what is known of old Celtic druidic practices, based in the understanding of the natural world and its philosophies, as well as the role of the mystic as a keeper of cultural lore, law and identity.
Entheogen Cults: Often referred to as "shamanic practices," these are the primal belief systems which depend on the use of entheogenic plants: hallucinogens which tend to grant visions of a prophetic or spiritual nature. Untamed and often very frightening, these practices teach their adherents to find the other layers of reality both within and beyond themselves.
Umthakathi: A South African tradition of potion-mixing and dealing with familiar spirits, practitioners (called tagati) are renowned for their skill in creating medicines for their clients. Most of all, though, it is known that when their most powerful magics come into play, they are brought in by animals who represent the spirits at work.
Voudoun: The reverence of the lwa, patron spirits of African slaves brought to the Caribbeans, voudoun is an ecstatic practice that managed to hide itself within trappings of Roman Catholicism while retaining its essential practices over generations. Voudoun is practiced in Haiti, Jamaica, and other Caribbean areas, as well as in the South - particularly where Creole culture predominates, such as in New Orleans.
Feng Shui: Chinese geomancy, focused on assisting in the channeling of negative chi away from a given locale, and the drawing of positive chi towards it.
Santeria: A primal practice involving the veneration of the orishas of West Africa, merged with Roman Catholicism, Santeria developed as an amalgamation of these two cultures, in the crucible of slavery in Cuba. Today, its priests and priestesses practice potent magics. It is most common in the Caribbean, Mexico and the southern United States, particularly Florida.
Theosophy: The teachings of Madame Blavatsky, theosophy embraces the search for the Great Truth, seeking the kernels of wisdom that lie scattered throughout the world's transcendent traditions. A mixture of Victorian British dabbling in occultism, eugenics and philosophy, with a touch of exotic India and Tibet to lend it perceived occult legitimacy.
The format for the Traditions is as follows:
- Name of the Tradition
- Prerequisites: This lists the full prerequisites, in addition to Occult 2, necessary for the purchase of the Magical Tradition Merit for this tradition.
- Tradition Skills: This list of five Skills denotes the Skills that all Tradition rotes are encoded in.
- Origins: A quick paragraph or two relating to the origins of the magical tradition.
- Praxis: The tradition's internal understanding of how its magic works.
- Correspondences: A listing of the sorts of foci, symbols, environments and times relevant to the practice of the tradition's magic, and often found encoded in its Tradition Rotes.
- Higher Mysteries: The additional secrets that come with deeper immersion into this magical tradition, gained by purchasing higher levels of the Magical Tradition.