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Mage Chronicler's Guide $19.19 $13.24
Average Rating:4.5 / 5
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Mage Chronicler\'s Guide
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Mage Chronicler's Guide
Publisher: White Wolf
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/15/2016 07:46:25

This book presents a wealth of ideas to spark the Storyteller's imagination, emphasising just how broad the scope of this game is and the multitude of things you can do with a 'contemporary magic' game. This is exemplified by the opening fiction, which tells the tale of four children Awakening... what does happen to those who Awaken early? Did someone (or something) help them to come into their powers in advance of when they would normally develop?

Chapter 1: Genres of the Awakened World explores seven different styles of game you could run, concentrating on mood and tone and emphasis rather than game mechanics, although any new rules you might need are provided. The genres explored are action horror, pulp adventure, epic fantasy, Faustian sorcery, lucid sleepers (this is an urban fantasy approach with mages living amongst normal folks, hiding yet using their powers), punk, and noir. Masses to conjure with here!

Next, Chapter 2: Mirror Magic looks at changing the very essence of what 'magic' is... mechanically, the rules stay pretty much the same, but it might be weird science or perhaps mages cast their spells by taking drugs, or maybe it's all psychic powers.

Then, Chapter 3: Building Character discusses not just characters themselves, but the things that define them: cabal, path and order; and looks at how to enhance and change them to suit your needs. It also covers magical 'style' in depth, looking at how it works and how it affects each character, complete with pertinent game mechanics.

Finally, Chapter 4: Mage Chroncles contains three artiles about running the game. One looks at a three-tier concept, the second considers that awkward fact that using magic the characters might find it too easy to gather information and thus derail your plot - find out how to make that work for you rather than against you - and the last one considers what happens when your mages get really powerful.

I said 'finally' but actually there is more: a whole fifteen chronicle ideas. These might inspire you to come up with your own ideas, or you may choose to run with them more or less 'as is'... or modify them to suit your requirements. Ideas a-plenty. This is a book to read whilst you are plotting your next game, rather than with a mind to changing the current one (unless perhaps you decide to end an otherwise conventional chronicle with all the 'mages' waking up in rehab having finally dried out from whatever they were taking!). Loads of ideas to sift through and consider, plenty of scope to help you let your imagination run riot!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mage Chronicler's Guide
Publisher: White Wolf
by Flames R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/17/2011 20:18:48

Rather than rehash decades old thoughts on gaming, the focus instead turns to new ground. This book tweaks the core principles–setting, magic mechanics, and character–before setting loose some ideas on actual Mage chronicles. I’ll try to go chapter-by-chapter once I get the artwork out of the way. Before I do, one pointer: there is never a reason to quote Ayn Rand. Ever. Seriously.

For me, the book’s artwork isn’t very special. I do like the cover art by Imaginary Friends Studio; however, the interior art wasn’t engaging. It did tie directly to the fiction, which earned it a step up.

Chapter One offers seven different takes on the setting/feel of Mage. Do you want to make your magi more like the badasses of Feng Shui or maybe capture the feel of Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files. Various rule tweaks can make that happen. This is a meaty chapter that looks at the entire process to make sense of the changes. There are character creation changes, combat twists, and more so that each world fits as easily as possible. Also, seeds of story ideas are scattered out, ready for Storytellers to snatch right up.

Chapter Two asks this question: what if magic doesn’t work like players think it does? What if weird science, psychic powers, or something else is the root of all power? I like these questions and where the authors went to find answers. It almost felt like they worked off assumptions that some of the original line’s traditions were wholly in the right. Here is what I mean. The Virtual Adepts are basically weird science meets magic (one could say the Technocracy is too). The Cult of Ecstasy, while not originally designed to say drugs equals magic, does not rule out the inherent power drugs offer some Willworkers. Of the magical source variations, I enjoyed the ideas behind the drug-fueled magi the most (probably because some people would be pissed off to find a game suggesting drug-fueled magi running around).

They do suggest a little Unknown Armies option to counter this: any vice will do. Maybe Wrath or Lust are your poison. I’m just not sure how dangerous a Mage of the Sloth vice will be. The ideas of being consumed by your obsessions is rich for gaming. It just may not be for everyone’s liking.

Chapter Three’s character creation variations look at two distinct aspects of the process, the story and the system. The first ten or so pages of this chapter sound familiar to me. Cooperative character creation. Check. Flags. Check. In-game character additions versus XP character additions. Check. Revisiting these ideas isn’t a bad idea, especially since are mixed differently for this game. Once you get past those pages, the chapter becomes fresh ground that is very specific to the Mage line. Every aspect of the character is examined HARD. I’m not sure NASA puts as much thought into their science as the authors did the latter part of this chapter.

It’s probably more information than most groups would use, but, Hell, it’s there if you want it!

Chapter Four looks at the Chronicle. How do you want to run your game? The writers contribute the largest part of this book to this question. You want to run a game without orders? Fine. Want a game touched by four-color comics? They got that too. This is the most “advicey” chapter in the book and my second favorite. With the additional rule tweaks in this chapter, I found myself wondering how seamlessly interlocking advice from multiple chapters would be.

If, for example, a change from Chapter One directly opposed one from Chapter Four, which has superiority? In the end, I suppose it boils down to house rules and your group’s decisions, which is really what these books are all about in the first place. Each of these alternate takes on Mage has probably occurred on a table already (albeit without all the nifty design changes). The writers are just opening up new avenues in an attempt to get the most mileage from your game.

And there isn’t anything wrong with that.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mage Chronicler's Guide
Publisher: White Wolf
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/09/2011 07:08:36

The 'Chroniclers Guide' is indicative of the toolbox approach that White Wolf seem to be taking with a lot of their recent products. Your mileage is going to vary significantly with this title, but the four star rating represents the breadth of uses for the material. Different groups should find at least one section that aligns with their preferred play style, but I'd advise against skimming the book. There is a lot of detail here, and some of the sections can be incredibly dense. There are a range of alternate styles for Mage Chronicles but they aren't going to be to everyone's tastes. However, it is easy to cherry pick ideas and plot devices from all chapters. The writing is uniformly good, although the artwork is the usual mishmash of quality.

The section of styles offered did fire my imagination. The Noir section was very cool, especially as I've been on a Dresden kick for a while, but you'll be able to play almost anything from here. Second section deals with some of the variant magical systems, which gives players a chance to really develop a personal style, and build a strong paradigm (for those of you who like Ascension). I'll be using the Weird Science section in my next game. Lastly, there are some insights into the developers own chronicles and their highpoints. These designers notes are really interesting as you see how the games designers reshape the product line to suit their needs. Again, a huge number of ideas just waiting to be stolen - er, reworked and attributed.

Products like this are difficult to review, because what works for me and my group may not work for yours. This is worth the price, even if you are running Old World of Darkness. On a final note, the Epilogue bears some careful reading as it provides some ambiguous discussion on the future of the White Wolf product line. Read it and speculate at your own peril - I won't say any more.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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