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My Ten Most Recent Roleplaying Games 4: Mage

3 May, 2021


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Inspired by Aaron de Orive’s 2020 First Ten RPGs, a brief account of the roleplaying games I have played most recently, beginning with the most recent and working backwards. Number four: White Wolf1s Mage:

the Ascension was the third game in White Wolf’s long running World of Darkness series. Of all the World of Darkness RPGs, it is the one whose cover is most purple. 

First published in 1993, it had a proofread second edition in 1995…well, more proof-read2…, a revised edition in 2000, and a 20thAnniversary edition in 2015

Designers include Stewart Wieck, Christopher Earley, Stephan Wieck, Bill Bridges, Sam Chupp, and Andrew Greenberg.

But I didn’t play any of those! A pity, because I really like the colour purple. I played Mage the Awakening. It was first published in 2005, with a second edition in 2016. It differs in some respects from the earlier mage games in a number of respects, not least of which is that the cover is green.

Mage players play the role of reality warpers of various flavours. As is so often the case in White Wolf games, the magical world is divided into factions (in this case, based on the teleological foundations of each school of magic). Thus, conflict! And depending on how traumatic discovering magic is real was for the mage in question, angst. Depending on judgment and dice rolls, a chance of death or worse. Although as White Wolf games go, Mage is not terribly angsty. 

On the plus side, in the right hands Mage is a very flexible system, offering the chance to create characters across a diverse range of magical flavours. On the minus side, I hate White Wolf’s dice-pool-based mechanics, and the very flexible nature of the game system highlights my dismal improvisational skills. So, not the game for me, although I can see why other people like it. 

1: This would be a good place to discuss White Wolf’s eventual fate but I am not going to. Search engines are your friend in this matter.

2: Why, yes! I too am very curious to see how many of my typos make into this post.