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World of Darkness: Aeon :: Games :: Mage: The Ascension :: Judgment Calls

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World of Darkness: Aeon / Games / Mage: The Ascension / Judgment Calls

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Judgment Calls


General Abilities

In M20, there are a handful of “general” ability traits that need to be purchased separately for each learned discipline within the broader category. In this game, we do not use that system. The other 3 big WoD games handle these traits differently, and since this site has crossover options it isn't really fair to require mages to spend additional points that the other characters wouldn't need to spend. So on this site, mages handle these traits as follows:

Broad-based abilities such as Art, Crafts, Esoterica and Science require that the player select a specialization, even if the trait is less than 4 dots. This is primarily a narrative tool. The specialty bonus for dice rolls still does not apply until level 4.

Additionally, we expect players to make their own judgment calls regarding realism and dice rolls. If your character has an Art specialization in singing and makes a roll to paint something, it's likely that a dice modifier would be appropriate, unless the character happens to have a broad artistic background (which is totally possible.) Ultimately, it's up to the player to determine what is and is not realistic for their character, based on their background and abilities.

The two exceptions to this are Lore and Area Knowledge. These traits can only apply to one specialized category. Lore in particular has in-game ramifications for other PCs, so if a character is meant to have specialized knowledge about another group, they need to pay for it (and have adequate justification.) Each category must be purchased as a separate trait: Vampire Lore, Technocracy Lore, Miami Area Knowledge, etc. The Well-Skilled Craftsman option cannot be used to add additional categories, though it can be used to purchase additional specializations within the category (examples for Vampire Lore: Court Politics, Tremere Rituals, etc.)


The rules for Do in the core book state that starting characters may not begin with a rating higher than two. Since characters in our game can begin at more moderate levels of experience, Akashics may start with 3 dots maximum in Do. However, any dots in this trait must fit the concept. Newly Awakened mages cannot take more than 1 dot in Do, and non-Akashics cannot begin with any dots in the trait. (Akashic Consors, however, can.)


Instruction is a Secondary Ability listed in the Book of Secrets. The description lists two options for teaching mechanics. We use the latter option: Instruction is rolled only once per ability, and it subtracts from the ability's xp cost.

Blind Fighting

Blind Fighting is a Secondary Ability listed in the Book of Secrets. This skill functions differently than most: rather than rolling the trait, each dot subtracts from the penalty of performing actions while visually blinded. There's only one problem with this: the penalties for blindness... don't actually work this way. In M20, blinded characters are unable to perform certain actions at all, and suffer a +2 difficulty penalty to everything else (so there wouldn't be any purpose to buying this trait past 2.) Instead of the system given in the book, each level will provide the following bonuses:

  1. Difficulty penalty drops to +1.
  2. No penalty on available actions.
  3. Can perform evasive maneuvers.
  4. Can perform ranged combat at +2 difficulty.
  5. Can perform ranged combat as usual (within reason.)

Optional Rules

Professional Skills and Expert Knowledges: Use of these traits is not required. The usual standard and secondary traits should be able to encompass any kind of skill or knowledge you'd like to buy. That said, if you would prefer to use one of these, you're welcome to do so.

The Well-Skilled Craftsman: Players may purchase additional specializations for their characters once they achieve 4 dots in a given trait. Additional specializations cost 4xp or 2 freebies each.

Body Control: This is allowed (as a specialty for Esoterica) for those characters with appropriate concepts. Unlike other disciplines that fall within the broader Esoterica umbrella, in order to access the unique abilities of Body Control, the character must choose either Body Control or Yoga as their primary Esoterica specialty. Otherwise, it is not available.

The Peaceful Way: Practitioners of Do can use that trait to augment mundane dice rolls by spending 1 point of WP and rolling Do at difficulty 8. Any successes gained can be added to the successes scored by the mundane dice roll. Only those mundane tasks that fit within the Eight Limbs of Expertise may be augmented this way.

Minimum Driving Skill: This is not being used officially in our system. That said, characters are expected to have at least Drive 1 if they want to be able to safely operate a vehicle. Yes, you CAN drive without the Drive skill – the same way you could roll any untrained skill (at +1 diff) - but it isn’t recommended.



Allies is handled in this system as a differential background. This means that players should purchase dots for each ally separately (though some low-level Allies can be purchased at two-per-dot.) Allies can be either mundane (Sleepers and Acolytes/Consors) or supernatural (Mages, spirits, manifested avatars, etc.)

  • For mundane allies, the point value is based on the level of influence and usefulness the NPC can provide. When in doubt, feel free to check with the Admin.
  • The point cost for Mage allies is usually determined by the NPC’s highest Sphere rank. Rank 1 allies cost one point, Rank 2 two points, and so on. Anything above Rank 3 is restricted and requires pre-approval from the Admin.
  • All other supernatural allies are restricted by default. Availability will depend on appropriateness and game balance.

Allies can go up in rank as time progresses. To do this, simply purchase the next level in the background. From there you are free to adjust their stats in whatever way you prefer – either all at once or slowly over time.


The Certification background is not being used in this system. Characters may have whatever certifications they need, as appropriate to their background. This is not something you have to pay for.


On this site, the Enhancement background can (theoretically) go above 5.


Unfortunately, M20 doesn't do a very good job of laying out creation rules for Familiars. The breakdown in the core book is extremely limited and doesn't address crucial things like stat breakdown (aside from knowledges) and spirit traits. The rules in Gods and Monsters, on the other hand, are designed for player-characters and are not compatible with the background. As such, in our game, Familiar creation rules have been altered. See the NPC Guide for specifics.

In our game, Familiars also possess the following abilities:

  • Familiars may use their Gnosis to step sideways through the Gauntlet (difficulty by Gauntlet rating.) They do not require a reflective surface.
  • Familiars may use their Gnosis to see into the Penumbra (difficulty by Gauntlet rating.)
  • Familiars are naturally able to see and hear other spirits, and can converse with those that hail from the same part of the Umbra as they do (Astral, Middle, Low, etc.) If the spirit is hiding, a sensory roll will be required.
  • Familiars are naturally able to touch/harm other spirits.
  • Physical attacks made against a Familiar damage both its physical form and its Essence. A Familiar can also be harmed by damaging its Essence directly (via Spirit magick and the like.)
  • If a Familiar is "killed" without destroying its Essence, its spirit will return to the Umbra. This does not destroy the Mage/Familiar bond. The Familiar will search for a way to rematerialize or possess another body (this body will need to be made permanent again,) and will try to return to their bondmate. In the event a player may need to roll dice for an ephemeral Familiar, they may give them a Rage trait equal to their highest physical stat when manifested (this goes away once they return to physical form, unless they purchased the Ferocity merit.)
  • If a Familiar's Essence is destroyed, it will dissolve the spirit and destroy its bond with the Mage (costing WP and Quintessence as per the core book.) The spirit will eventually be reborn in the Umbra (as all spirits are,) but it may or may not recall its past life and any attempt to reunite with the Mage (or vice versa) will require a long journey and a new bonding ritual.

Mentor and Library

Under the standard rules, mages cannot advance their spheres without access to a mentor or library. On this site, we allow mages to be self-taught. However, doing so comes at a disadvantage. Without assistance, mages cannot learn more than 1 new sphere rank every 3 months.

Mages who do have access to a mentor or a library can reduce their learning time. To do this, roll a number of dice equal to the library or mentor's background rating, at difficulty 7. 1 success reduces the minimum learning period to 2 months. 2 successes reduces it to one month. 3 successes or more allows a mage to learn more than one new sphere rank in the same month. (These spheres must still be purchased with XP at the usual rate.)

Mentors can only teach spheres that they actually have, so if a PC wants to learn a sphere rank that's beyond their mentor's knowledge, they won't be able to use them as a resource. Similarly, libraries cannot teach spheres at a higher rank than the library itself. Any library or mentor that a mage uses for magickal enlightenment must also be compatible with their paradigm.

Mages can combine mentors and libraries for this roll, but all mentors and libraries must have the appropriate level and type of knowledge. Assuming they meet that criteria, take the highest rating among them and add +1 for each additional learning source. Mentors and libraries do not have to be the mage's own. They can be other PCs, Chantry libraries, etc. The mage does, however, need to have confirmed access to that resource.

WP can be spent on this roll. In order to claim this benefit, players must have the roll witnessed and include it in their request.


Following initial character creation, Status on this site is earned through play rather than purchased. Players may claim Status on their monthly journals (see the Journals and Advancement page for more details.) Earned Status is calculated in increments, similar to Renown in Werewolf. Temporary Status does not confer any benefits. It's simply a means of keeping track of how close a character is to earning their next dot. As a character grows in Status, each progressive rank becomes harder to achieve.

  • Status 1: 10 temporary Status points
  • Status 2: 20
  • Status 3: 40
  • Status 4: 80
  • Status 5: 160

Temporary Status resets after earning a dot (it does not accumulate.)

Optional Rules

Advantages: (This applies to the Enhancement Background) Yes, this option is available. However, it is restricted. Talk to the Admin about what you have in mind. It may or may not be allowed, depending.

Merits & Flaws

For rulings regarding specific Merits & Flaws, please see the Merits & Flaws page.

Players who wish to design a custom Merit or Flaw should speak with the Admin. Depending on what you have in mind, it might be totally doable.

Additionally, players may be able to get special allowance to take more than 7 points in Flaws (even with more than 2 Flaws,) if it strongly suits the character. Talk to the Admin if this is something you'd like to do.


We use the resonance option here. We do not use synergy.

Check out the expanded resonance rules in the Book of Secrets (page 128) for more information about resonance. The book is a bit vague regarding the calculation of resonance, so to clarify: Mages can take up to five dots in EACH resonance trait. The special monthly dice bonuses, however, will only use the most appropriate trait (so these bonuses will never go above 5, no matter how much total resonance a mage has.)

For those who do not have access to the book, resonance now provides the following special abilities:

  • A single monthly bonus to the character's Arete dice pool, in the amount of that character's strongest resonance trait.
  • A single monthly bonus to an appropriate Background trait, in the amount of that character's strongest resonance trait.
  • A single monthly bonus to an appropriate non-magickal dice pool, in the amount of that character's strongest resonance trait.

In order to use these bonuses, the action must be appropriate to the resonance in question (tossing a fireball with Burning resonance, etc.) Only one of these bonuses may be used per month, and only the amount of that character's most appropriate resonance trait will apply (in this case you cannot combine them.)

In the Book of Secrets, it states that the freebie cost for resonance is the new rating x 3. This is a bit steep, and doesn't follow the same rules as any other trait, so we've amended it to: current rating x 3. (This is for freebie cost only. Resonance cannot be purchased with experience.)

The books are pretty vague about how to calculate the casting difficulty modifier when factoring in resonance. On this site, the modifier is based on the strength of the applicable resonance. If a mage has 2 dots of Rejuvenating resonance and they heal someone, they can modify the difficulty by -2. In this case, appropriate resonance traits can be combined. So if they also have 1 dot in Compassionate resonance, they could add them together for a -3 modifier. (Remember that an effect's base difficulty cannot be modified by more than +3/-3.) This rule applies equally to opposing resonance. A character with 1 dot of Burning resonance and 1 dot of Icy resonance will not apply any modifiers, since they cancel each other out. A character with 3 dots of Rejuvenating resonance and 1 dot of Decaying resonance will end up with a -2 modifier to heal.


Martial Arts and Do Maneuvers

In the core book, the Martial Arts maneuver Thunder Kick and the Do maneuvers Hurricane Throw and Typhoon Kick all list their damage as [regular damage] + successes. The exact nature of this mechanic is unclear, since every damage-dealing combat action in the WoD adds damage dice based on the successes scored in the attack roll. So we're left to assume that they made a distinction here for a reason, particularly since all of these maneuvers are meant to be powerful finishing-move type actions. The only assumption left is that those dice are meant to be in addition to the usual success-based damage dice. Is that a weird way of calculating damage? Yes. Does it make these maneuvers unnervingly devastating? Yes. But that's the way they're written. One would imagine that's why the writers placed limitations on how often the more lethal kicks can be used.

Great Swords and Great Axes

On this site, the stats for Great Swords and Great Axes have been altered from those listed in the core book. Both weapons are now difficulty 7, and do Str+4L in damage.

Optional Rules

Those optional rules which apply to combat and/or destructive scenarios will be left up to individual STs. If there is no ST, the players involved in the scene can come to a mutual agreement whether to allow something or not. Or, barring that, ask the Admin.


Calculating Damage

Under the standard casting rules, players use the Damage or Duration chart to determine damage. However, we use the Dividing Successes casting method on this site, which does not use that chart. The rules for determining damage with this system are written differently in at least two different places in the book (in one part, it says that base successes count for damage; in another, it says they don't.) On this site, base successes DO count for determining damage, at 2 levels per success. This also applies to healing.

Stacked/Simultaneous Effects

As stated in the book, stacking effects can come with a difficulty penalty. However, this rule is disregarded here. You do not need to apply a difficulty penalty if your character tries to cast multiple effects within the same scene. We follow the logic that once an effect is cast, it no longer requires active concentration on the part of the caster unless they choose to extend or augment it.

Subtle Effects

In previous editions of Mage, it was possible to create subtle effects by spending additional successes. These successes would then cancel out, one for one, the successes of an opponent's detection roll. While this option seems to have been dropped from M20, we continue to use it on this site.

Offensive Mind Magick

The M20 books present a new set of rules for offensive mind magick that bases the effect's difficulty on the target's willpower. However, depending on where in the books you happen to read, these rules are presented using incomplete and contradictory text. Additionally, some of the specifics are problematic for our game. As such, the rules have been altered as follows:

Offensive Mind effects have a base difficulty of the target's WP (regardless of their affiliation,) except in cases of drastic acts of mind control (murder, suicide, etc.) In those instances, the difficulty is WP+3. This rule still applies if you are casting against multiple targets. In those cases, you will take the group's highest WP rating as the difficulty. The lowest possible difficulty for these effects is 4, regardless of the target's WP.

Also, to clarify: this only applies to invasive Mind magick. Mind 1 Effects, including those used to detect auras, are not affected.


All of the optional applications for countermagick are allowed on this site, including Protective or Offensive countermagick, Anti-Magick, and Unweaving.

Canceling Effects

In the core book, there are multiple mentions of mages dispelling or dropping their effects at will (although there are also instances of mages having to unweave their effects, so this interpretation may not be consistent.) This makes sense under the logic that effects have to be consistently focused on/maintained, however on this site we've ruled that effects, once cast, no longer require active focus (see the ruling on simultaneous effects, above.) Additionally, requiring mages to unweave their effects (when needed) creates a greater sense of stakes and responsibility. You've put something out into the world, now you have to deal with the consequences.

As such, on this site, if a mage wishes to cancel or drop an effect that they previously cast, they must unweave it with countermagick. However, because they're countering their own effect, the difficulty for this is 6 (not 8.)

Reality Zones

The rules for using Reality Zones to determine the difficulty and plausibility of an Effect are allowed and in use here.

Optional Rules

Minimum Abilities: We follow the rule of minimum abilities on this site. When using abilities to focus an effect, the highest sphere used in that effect cannot be higher than the level of the ability.

The Data Sphere: Yes, characters who use Data instead of Correspondence will get -1 difficulty when using that sphere in the Digital Web.

Wild Talent: Yes, we do allow for the possibility of rare, dramatically appropriate uses of Wild Talent. However, this must be approved either by an ST (temporary or official) or the Admin.

Dividing Successes: This is the standard casting method employed on this site.

Automatic Successes: Yes, this is allowed.

The Domino Effect: This rule is optional. Individual STs (or players) can choose to use it if they wish.

Rite, Ceremony and Great Work: Yes, this site uses the rules for rites, ceremonies and great works when dealing with lengthy rituals.

Paradox in Mage Revised: No, we do not use the revised Paradox rules here.

Significant Instruments: This option is allowed, when appropriate.

Management and Human Resources: This is allowed for appropriate characters.


Wonders and Hypertech Instruments

While mystic Wonders are generally pretty obvious, there's a bit of grey area when it comes to technomagickal devices. Technomancers use a wide variety of tech, both mundane and extraordinary, to focus their effects. At what point are these instruments considered Wonders? In this game, technomagickal instruments must be purchased as Wonders if their magickal capabilities can be activated by anyone (a "Device" in Wonder terms) or they can be activated by any mage with a single success on an Arete roll (an "Invention.") If the instrument essentially functions as a conduit for the mage's own Will, then it is not classified as a Wonder, even if it is hypertech. To put it another way, if the casting roll for said item's abilities is exactly the same as it would be for a mystic mage casting the same effect, then that ability is really coming from the mage - not the item. The mage might believe otherwise (particularly if they are a technocrat) but in the end what they've got is a very flashy version of a standard instrument.

Charms and Gadgets

Under the Revised rules, the difficulty to use a charm or gadget was based on its effect (just as it would be when casting that effect from scratch.) In M20, the difficulty is always 7. On this site, we use the old system for determining a charm/gadget's difficulty. The new system is unnecessarily harsh and doesn't benefit the game in any way. So when activating a charm, the character will roll its Arete trait against a difficulty of the highest sphere used in the effect + 3/4/5 (depending on how coincidental or vulgar it is.)

Additionally, the revised rules stated that to activate a charm was a reflexive action. M20 isn't clear about this one way or the other, and though the lack of specification may itself be indication that it's no longer considered reflexive, on our site we will still follow the revised ruling. Activating a charm is always a reflexive action. However, the mundane actions required to equip and employ a charm are not (just the same as if the mage were equipping a weapon or a casting instrument.)

WP may be spent on the activation roll. However, mortals (who have to burn WP to even initiate the activation) do not have this option.

Grimoires and Principiae

On this site, Grimoires and Principiae cannot be used to purchase Arete. However, narratively they can be used to help trigger a Seeking.

The BoS suggests that certain abilities may be required as a prerequisite to understanding a Grimoire/Principia. On this site, a character will need to have a level of Research equal to the rank of the Grimoire/Principia in order to grasp its teachings. Also note that they will need to be capable of reading whatever language the tome is written in. And of course, the mage must share the same basic paradigm as the book's author.

Under the rules given in the BoS, a mage can use the same Grimoire or Principiae only once per year. This rule has been altered for our game. Here, if a mage uses a Grimoire or Principiae, they must wait 3 months before attempting to use it again. (They can still read it, but it will not provide any benefit.)



Unfortunately, the M20 core book doesn't get into any detail regarding Factions. Which, in some cases, is a pretty glaring omission. To clarify: these Factions (and Methodologies) do still exist. While I normally try to discourage the use of older game editions, in cases like this it can be necessary to fill in the gaps. Anyone thinking of assigning their character to a particular Faction/Methodology should consult the relevant Revised Edition Tradition/Convention Book for background info. In some cases, you may need to make inferences in order to update that information for a modern setting, but in general this information is still accurate. (At least, until the powers that be decide to update the Factions for M20.)


Characters can choose a specialty once they achieve 4 dots in a trait (attributes, abilities and spheres.) (Or, in the case of some abilities, their specialty acquires the dice bonus at rank 4.) In our system, they can choose an additional (free) specialty at rank 5.

Players also have the option of purchasing specialties once a trait achieves rank 4, at a cost of 4xp or 2 freebies. While the book only discusses this option in relation to abilities, it can be used for attributes and spheres. However, in this system traits cannot have more than 3 specialties total.


The rationality and mechanics behind Primium is treated quite vaguely in the books. Whether or not it works against the Technocrats' own enlightened science is never discussed, but given the applications where it's used (specifically Primium Countermeasures) it seems likely that it does not. In the interest of fairness, on this site it is canon that Primium acts as countermagick toward mystic effects ONLY. Yes, that means that technomancers among the Traditions can be immune to its effects just as technocrats are. However, any individual technomancer (whether they be a Technocrat or a Traditionalist) could still run into problems if their magick happens to bleed into mystic territory (such as those with the Scientific Mystic merit.)

Node Meditation

It appears that M20 has neglected to include mechanics for refreshing Quintessence at a Node. As such, we will continue to use the revised mechanics. These are listed on page 119 of the revised core book, under the Avatar background.

  • For each hour spent meditating at a node, roll Perception+Meditation, difficulty 7. Each success allows the character to replenish 1 point of Quintessence, up to the level of their Avatar rating. (Prime magick can surpass this limit.)


As described in the Core Book and Gods and Monsters, Unbelief can be profoundly dangerous to any being whose existence flies in the face of established consensus, causing damage every turn until the being is destroyed. This system differs from the one established in Revised, which was Paradox-based and fit more neatly into the established canon of Mage. Because of the new system's debilitating effects and sketchy logic, we will not be using it. Instead, we will use the old system. Any being whose existence triggers the Unbelief effect (Bygones, obvious Constructs, etc.) will generate Paradox when outside of their native reality. The specifics of this can differ depending on the being in question. For example, cyborgs already account for this with their built-in Paradox. And of course, some beings mysteriously escape Unbelief (werewolves, vampires, spirits, etc.) Storytellers should feel free to be subjective.

Familiars have their own system, listed in Forged by Dragon's Fire on page 83. Under these rules, Familiars who trigger Unbelief generate 1 point of Paradox per level in the background whenever they are witnessed by a Sleeper. This Paradox transfers to the Mage, as Familiars do not suffer their own Paradox.

Optional Rules

Verbenae and the Old Roads: This option is allowed in our system. However, whether or not an individual Verbena may attempt to search for the entrance to an Old Road in a given area is up to ST discretion.

Acclimation: Yes, we do use the acclimation rules here. (This applies to characters who spend a lengthy amount of time in the Umbra.)

Umbrood Magick: This is not something we typically do here. But if an ST wishes to use this option for spirits in a given scene/SL, they may.

Social Conditioning and Reprogramming: This optional system is allowed, under applicable scenarios.

Errors and Inconsistencies

This space is for judgment calls on the various inconsistent rulings peppered throughout the M20 core book and associated supplements.


There is no mention of how to handle declares during combat in the M20 core book. In fact, the declare round seems to have been left out entirely in the Dramatic Systems chapter. However, there are a few mentions of declares here and there (the book does, in fact, list rules for changing your declare, so one would assume that there is still an option to make them in the first place) and given the way the system handles things like split actions (which require a declare round in order to really make sense,) we will still be using declares in combat.

Healing Effects and Base Successes

In the Magickal Feats chart, healing is listed as requiring a minimum of two successes, while healing aggravated damage is listed as requiring at least 3. However, underneath the chart it states that personal effects (such as self-healing) typically require only one success. Additionally, on page 537 (under "Successes") it states clearly that self-healing is a personal effect and only requires 1 success. As such, on this site all self-healing has a minimum threshold of only 1 success. Healing someone else, however, requires at least 2.

Forces Damage

Throughout the M20 core book (as well as previous editions of Mage) it is stated that adding the Forces sphere to an attack spell gives the effect +1 success when calculating damage. However, in the FAQ written in the Book of Secrets, it is revealed that this rule does not apply when using the Dividing Successes option. This statement is not likely to be noticed by anyone who hasn't read through all of the BoS, and, quite frankly, I don't feel that the explanation makes a lot of sense. I chose to use the Dividing Successes option for the simple reason that it allows more customization of effects. The idea was not to make things more troublesome by tacking on a whole different set of rules. So, no. On this site, Forces always gives +1 automatic success to direct damage effects, regardless of dice mechanics.

Creating Patterns with Quintessence

In the Book of Secrets FAQ, it states that creating things "from thin air" does not require Quintessence from the caster. The implication seems to be that these effects draw their necessary Quintessence from the environment. However, the way the core book explains this doesn't seem to give that impression (otherwise, why make note of the Quintessence requirement at all?) Additionally, it just doesn't make sense when you look at the sphere breakdown. If a mage cannot draw Quintessence from thin air until Prime 5, why would a simple Prime 2 effect be able to do so? This ruling is not in effect here. Creating patterns from nothing DOES require Quintessence channeled by the caster (personal, Tass, etc.)



Under the description for Correspondence 2 in the core book, it states that mages can teleport small patterns, including "guns and rabbits." However, earlier in the sphere description it also states that the rank of Correspondence must equal the highest sphere in the effect. Both rabbits (complex life) and guns (complex matter) are rank 3, which means that you would actually need Correspondence 3 to transport them.

Along similar lines, the supplement How Do You DO That? lists rules for setting minor wards using Correspondence 2. However, realistically, many of the targets one might want to ward against won't be available until rank 3.

Under the description for Correspondence 4 in the core book, it states that major wards / bans only require Prime 4 to ward against resonance energies. However, in the Common Magickal Effects charts and in How Do You DO That? (where the rules for wards are much more fleshed out,) it states that ALL major wards require Prime 4. Since the latter ruling appears twice, and since the supplement goes into more depth explaining it, we will be following the rule that Prime 4 is always required.


Under the description for Matter 2 in the core book, it states that dissolving base materials into Quintessence requires Matter 2 / Prime 2.  However, under the Prime sphere description it states that this cannot be done until rank 3. On this site, we will use Prime 3.

Also under the description for Matter 2, it states that you can awaken the spirit of an object using Matter 2 and Spirit 3. However, the description under Spirit does not mention the use of a pattern sphere with this effect. Neither does the entry in Common Magickal Effects, or the rote "Awaken the Inanimate" (all of which use only Spirit 3.) Therefor, it is not required that a mage add Matter to this effect (though you could if you wanted to.)

The description for Matter 5 in the core book states that a mage can melt steel at this level. However, transforming a material's basic state (solid to liquid) is listed under rank 3. Here, we would use Matter 3 for this. Similarly, under the "Notes" at the top of the Common Magickal Effects charts, it states that to liquefy an object would require Matter 2. Again, this is a Matter 3 effect.

Also under Matter 5, there is an option to turn vampires into lawn furniture (see also: The Notorious Vampiric Lawn Chair) using Life 5 / Matter 5. While the distinctions between different levels of Matter are pretty vague, nothing at this level would go beyond Matter 4 (which allows the creation of complex objects.) Lawn chairs are not particularly complex, so they would more realistically fall under Matter 3 (for basic compound objects.) Granted, you could also look at Matter as being representative of the vampire, but that wouldn't be above Matter 3 either. So on this site, this effect would use Life 5 / Matter 3.


Under the description of the Mind sphere in the core book, it states that to read the resonance of an object or place you would need to add Matter to the effect. However, no other mentions of resonance require the addition of a pattern sphere. A mage could read the resonance attached to a living being using only Mind (or Prime.) They could even detect resonance with a simple Awareness roll. So it seems odd to change the rules only in this one instance. As such, Matter is not required to detect an object's resonance.

Under the description for Mind 3 in the core book, it states that mages with a particular kind of Focus (those who believe that what they do involves psychic power) can cast other sorts of effects (telekinesis, pyrokinetics, clairvoyance, etc.) by adding Mind 3 to the usual spheres required to cast those effects. This is also discussed in more detail in How Do You DO That? This interpretation muddies the water between Focus and Effect, and makes casting some lower-level effects unnecessarily difficult. Under the standard casting system, Spheres define what the mage is trying to do, while Focus defines how the mage accomplishes it. So a mage could very well believe that they are moving objects around with the power of their mind, but they wouldn't need to use the Mind sphere to do it. If a player wants to add Mind 3 for flavor, they're welcome to do so, but it's not required.


Under "Examples in Play," the coincidental mystic effect (page 561) uses Life 2 to find people who are hungry. This is simple sensory magick, so it should be Life 1.

Also under "Examples of Play" there is a technomagickal effect (page 562) that involves skipping a car through traffic with Correspondence and Forces. This effect uses Matter 2 to lock the effect into the car's pattern and keep it from flying apart. However, cars are complex objects with moving parts, and therefor require at least Matter 3. 

Again under "Examples of Play" the example of an effect using the Divided Successes option (page 563) uses Entropy 1 to "exploit weaknesses." While rank 1 Entropy can be used to find weaknesses, actually exploiting them (magickally speaking) requires a minimum of rank 2. As such, this effect should use Entropy 2.

The "Right-Click" adjustment (page 602) uses Mind 3 to "read surface thoughts." Reading surface thoughts is Mind 2, according to the sphere description. Mind 3 would only be needed if you wanted to probe deeper.

The "Sanitize Evidence" procedure (page 603) uses Matter 2 and Forces 2 to convert matter into energy. However, this cannot be done until the third rank in Forces. As such, this effect should use Forces 3.

"The Bullet-Catch" rote (page 607) uses Life 2 to "harden the skin" against an incoming projectile. Realistically, this should be Life 3 (altering the body / increasing soak.) Additionally, the effect uses Time 2 to speed up reflexes. This should be Time 3.

The "Chain of Whispers" rote (page 608) uses a conjunctional Mind 3 / Correspondence 2 effect to compel a chain of targets to pass along whispered secrets. However, Correspondence magick must match the level of the highest sphere in the Effect. Additionally, this should probably use Correspondence 3 anyway, since that rank influences the connections between patterns. So this should be Mind 3 / Correspondence 3.

The "Talons" rote (page 609) suggests using Matter 2 as an optional component to "work other substances into the living material," such as cybernetics. Fusing living and nonliving material requires the third rank, so this should be Matter 3.

"The Notorious Vampiric Lawn Chair" rote (page 610,) as mentioned above, uses Life 5 / Matter 5 to transform a vampire into a lawn chair. However, nothing about this effect requires Matter 5. Corpses are simple Matter, and lawn chairs are Matter 3. As such, this effect should be Life 5 / Matter 3.

Common Magickal Effects

A handful of the effects listed in the Common Magickal Effects charts are inconsistent with the spheres descriptions and/or other rulings in the books. These have been updated in our casting guide, but for the sake of clarity, here are the changes that were made:

"Animate Corpse or Parts" - Life 2 / Prime 2 ---> Life 3 / Matter 2 / Prime 2 (complex life; corpses require Matter)

"Create Body" - Life 5 / Prime 2 ---> Life 3 (simple) or Life 5 (complex) / Prime 2 (difficulty varies)

"Soak Aggravated Damage" - Life 3 ---> Life 3 / Prime 3 (soaking agg requires Prime 3 + Quint)

"Conjure Spirit" - Spirit 3 ---> Spirit 3+ (difficulty varies)

"Conjure Element" - Matter 3 / Prime 3 ---> Matter 2 / Prime 2 (simple matter, prime 2 creates patterns)

"Conjure New Object" - Matter 3+ / Prime 2 ---> Matter 2+ / Prime 2 (creation starts at rank 2)

"Invisibility on Living Being" - Forces 2 / Life 2 ---> Forces 2 / Life 2+ (difficulty varies)

"Levitation / Flying" - Forces 2+ or Correspondence 3 / Life 2 or Matter 2 ---> Forces 2+ or Correspondence 3 / Life 2+ or Matter 2+ (difficulty varies)

"Object Inflicts / Resists Agg. Damage" - Prime 2 ---> Matter 2+ / Prime 2 (requires pattern sphere to lock)

"Transform Objects" - Matter 2+ / [appropriate sphere] 2 ---> Matter 2+ / [appropriate sphere] 3+ (other spheres start at rank 3)

"Transform Forces" - Forces 3+ / [appropriate sphere] 2 ---> Forces 3+ / [appropriate sphere] 2+ (difficulty varies)

"Aging / Reversing Age" - Time 3+ / Matter 2 (object) ---> Time 3+ / Matter 2+ (difficulty varies)

"Conjure Earthly Being" - Corr 4 / Life 2 ---> Corr 4 / Life 3 (complex living things are Life 3)

"Create Multiple Objects" - Correspondence 5 / Matter 3 / Prime 2 ---> Correspondence 5 / Matter 2+ / Prime 2 (difficulty varies)

"Clairvoyance" - Corr 2; or Corr 2 / Mind 3 ---> Corr 2 only (Mind 3 is an optional ruling which we don't require here)

"Absorb Quintessence" - Prime 3 ---> Prime 1; or Prime 3 (depends on source and degree)

"Channel Quintessence" - Prime 3 ---> Prime 1; or Prime 3 (depends on specifics)

"Create Quintessence Weapon" - Costs one Quintessence per health level ---> Costs one Quintessence per turn (as per Prime guidelines)

"Enchant Weapon / Armor" - Prime 2 ---> Matter 2+ / Prime 2 (requires pattern sphere to lock)

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