February 22, 2014
A Look At The Crunch Of Mage: The Awakening
The last of the three “main” World of Darkness games, Mage: The Ascension joins its fellows Vampire: The Masquerade and Werewolf: The Apocalypse to complete this trinity of modern Gothic horror games by White Wolf Publishing. While Vampire focuses heavily on the social elements of the game and Werewolf is nothing else if not physical focused, Mage: The Ascension… wait. This is not supposed to be about Mage: The Ascension. I was going to tell you about Mage: The Awakening, the rendition of the game for the New World of Darkness.
Pardon my copying the opening bit of my look at Mage: The Ascension, but of all the New World of Darkness games, Mage: The Awakening is the one that stands out the least to me in terms of being different from its predecessor. It is a phenomenal game, do not get me wrong, but it occasionally feels as though so little has changed that it makes you question why they changed anything at all. Well, at least in terms of mechanics and crunch. In terms of fluff, a lot has changed, but I will get to that later.
So, what has changed? Well, the game now uses the more streamlined Storyteller system, which I would note as a grand improvement. This also means, like mortals and Vampires were in the original versions of the game, Mages are now subject to a morality system, which again I note as an improvement. In addition to that, just as they have done with all their titles, in Mage players are left choosing between two options of five. First you must choose the sort of mage you are, where you draw your power from (which ties in very heavily to that fluff I mentioned earlier) and what sect of the awakened you belong to, or if you belong to any sect at all and operate as an independent. While they did not really change their system of magic all that much, they did streamline it a bit, which, again, I would note as an improvement over the older game. Once again you have different spheres of magic that you can combine with one-another to create any sort of magical effect or “spell” that you desire. Now, though, the spheres are divided up a little better in what each tier of power means. At the lower ranks you are only able to sense and understand the power of your sphere of influence, where at higher tiers you are able to manipulate, create, and even change. There are now ten spheres of magic rather than just nine, with Entropy being divided into the spheres of Death and Fate.
Most other changes to the game feel almost purely thematic. Quintessence, the energy of magic, has been renamed “Mana.” Arete, your level of supernatural awareness and power, is now called “Gnosis.” Other than that, the two games are so similar that it is hard to tell them apart.
So, would I recommend the game? Yes. Would I recommend it over Mage: The Ascension? Again, yes. Every change they did make was an improvement to the game, at least in my opinion. The old saying “if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it” comes to mind a lot with this game, and the developers certainly took this to heart. The change from Mage: The Ascension to Mage: The Awakening did exactly what a new version should do: it kept everything great about the older version while updating it and making changes only where changes were needed. I adore this game and recommend it to any player looking to take a step into a more awakened world.
As always I thank you all for reading and wish you all good gaming.
Image Credit: White Wolf Publishing