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Deimos_Masque

The Precusor of Mage: The Awakening

Old Mage the Ascension Players  

96 members have voted

  1. 1. Did you play Mage: The Ascension and what did you think of it?

    • Played it and LOVED it! But I like Mage the Awakening More
      8
    • Played it at thought it was good. I like Mage the Awakening More
      13
    • Played it and didn't like it. I like Mage the Awakening More
      5
    • Played it and HATED it! I like Mage the Awakening More
      3
    • Played it and was generally neutral to it. I like Mage the Awakening More
      2
    • Never Played it but am aware of what it was like.
      16
    • Never played and don't really know much about it.
      6
    • Played it and LOVED it! And I dislike Mage the Awakening
      18
    • Played it at thought it was good. And I dislike Mage the Awakening
      2
    • Played it and didn't like it. I don't like Mage the Awakening either
      2
    • Played it and was generally neutral to it. And I dislike Mage the Awakening
      0
    • Other (please explain)
      5
    • Liked Both Equally
      16


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Donor

This came up on the "Why did you 'embrace' the New WOD" topic found here.

It's been suggested that the popularity of Mage: the Awakening hinges on a person never having played or liked the original Mage: the Ascension. So here we go, a totally and completely non-scientific poll to determine if anecdotaly, Mage: the Awakening players have never played Mage: the Ascension, or if they did they don't like it.

Please feel free to post any clarifications to your poll answers that you wish and share any experiences with either game that helped forge your opinions.

Realize that like all polls on an internet forum the poll is already schewed by the fact that this is posted on the Mage: the Awakening forum thus we are more likely to get Mage the Awakening fans. Thus any data obtained is purely information purposes only.

Now my answer. I loved Mage the Ascension, it was and still is my favorite game from the Original World of Darkness. However having said that I find Mage the Awakening to be a more grown up game and I love the themes of it more than I do the original game.

Edited by Deimos_Masque
EDIT: Added "Liked Both Equally" to the poll

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There's a kind of big hole in your poll. You don't have any options for liking both games without liking Awakening more. Of course, there is the "other" option.

Playing magic-wielding humans appeals to me. Both games execute that theme well, with different qualities. I like everything about the nWoD better, so that probably means I favor Awakening just a bit. I chose "Other", anyways.

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Donor

You mean Ars Magica?

Mage: The Ascension was the descendant of Ars, and Ars is the predecessor to both. :D

EDIT: Grammar? I don't need no stinking grammar!

Edited by ROMzombie

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I haven't played MtAs, though I've read the first-edition corebook. There are a lot of interesting ideas, which I honor by tearing it apart mercilessly for MtAw ideas; however, a combination of irritating setting elements (science is NOT evil! It doesn't stifle creativity or wonder--those are, in fact, prerequisites for studying science, especially if the Technocracy is making up everything we know as it goes along! AGH!) and the bizarre, ST-fiat-based mechanics make me very inclined to stick with Awakening.

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Donor
There's a kind of big hole in your poll. You don't have any options for liking both games without liking Awakening more. Of course, there is the "other" option.

Playing magic-wielding humans appeals to me. Both games execute that theme well, with different qualities. I like everything about the nWoD better, so that probably means I favor Awakening just a bit. I chose "Other", anyways.

Your absolutely right. The perils of making a poll at work and trying to get it all in. That's why I always put an "Other" in.

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I did play Mage: the Ascension a couple times, and .. I tend not to be overly passionate about games, especially not on the negative, but I Really Don't Like Mage: the Ascension. Things like the traditions or consensual reality or paradigm pretty much make the game unplayable for me.

Ascension does have a very small selection of things I find to be awesome, particularly in comparison to other games: Nephandi (the whole Cauls thing is really great). Masters of the Art is pure gold. Quiet and Jhor? Awesome.

On the whole, though, I can't picture myself enjoying an Ascension game. The game really doesn't work for me.

Now - Awakening ...

It's so very different from Ascension! Mages who actually do magic. A proper occult background of the world. Mystery. Gnostic themes. Archons. The Demiurge. Societies built upon lies and deception. Power that is based on knowing about the Truth of Things. (Human!) antagonists that make vampires look like bad puppies.

Great stuff.

Mage: the Awakening is far from a perfect game. Some sourcebooks, Astral Realms comes to mind, venture way too far into the realm of Modern Fantasy for what I consider to be the game line's good. I could name what I think is the perfect game about occult sorcery, but that's neither here nor there. I do, however, consider Mage: the Awakening to be the best genre-specific game currently in print.

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Guest SKeLoRiC

When you added the "Liked Both Equally" you broke the poll and my vote moved up one from "Played it and LOVED it and I hate Mage the awakening".

Could you restore my vote?

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Donor

Of course. I though I fixed them all... oops.

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Donor

I love them both, though for different reasons and for different kinds of games. Ascension has one of the highest potential for character diversity, roleplaying and potential for phenominal game play with the right ST. With a poor ST or mediocre ST, the game will fall flat on it's face. It's one of those games which is incredibly ST dependent and I think it could soar to heights beyond almost any other game. It's similar to Promethean in that essential element.

Awakening by contrast, is a much more stable game. It's hard to screw up awakening but the system limits the potential heights which a game may reach imo. From a mechanical pov, the magic is dramatically better organized and gameplay in general is better.

I would be willing to run either, but I would be hesitant to play in a game of Ascension without knowing the skill of the ST.

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Guest SKeLoRiC

I think that having this in the Mage area rather than a general area might be enough to skew results.

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I think that having this in the Mage area rather than a general area might be enough to skew results.

The poll was aimed at players of Awakening, Skel, not you.

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Donor

Reading the posts above I think in many ways I'm the anti-Christian when it comes to these two games, in part since I'm generally interested in White Wolf games as a vehicle for modern fantasy. I also like both games for different reasons, but neither does exactly what I would've wanted. So I guess my vote would have to be "Other".

These are the specific things I'm looking for and how each game compares:

What magic is and why it works

I'm of the (probably minority) mindset that a freeform magic system should be designed to simulate all mysterious means to accomplish goals. Ascension introduced me to this idea. Awakening draws back from the idea at first, suggesting that magic only covers understanding of certain categories of knowledge (ie. "mystical powers"), but then Awakening tries to re-introduce the idea with modern praxes, and Magical Traditions.

However, in my ideal world the various styles of magic would be like different facets of the same jewel, or masses of the same substance in different phases. That is: All magical styles would essentially be correct, but just focused on different parts of the whole, all having part of the picture but none perfectly able to model how the universe really works. Because there are some things about the universe that the human mind can't grasp all of at once.

Unfortunately neither game exactly did this. Ascension started out with the premise that each magical style (Paradigm) was simply a lie that was given the power to become reality through belief. Getting better at magic in Ascension didn't give a character insights which confirmed the validity of their magical style. Instead getting better showed them that their style was an illusion.

Awakening took a different approach but still didn't give me what I wanted. It said that the basis of magic was always interaction with some higher world, which would mean that any magical theories not relating to such a higher world are incorrect. Magical styles divided among many different lines: There's the watchtower you were drawn to, indicating which part of the higher world you can most easily touch. There are Legacies, sort of themed "super masteries". There are casting tools of various types. And there are magical traditions, which are essentially a compromise between the upper and lower worlds.

Still magic always came from the higher world, and if it didn't then either it was bad/evil (Abyssal magic) or you couldn't master it (all other supernaturals). At best magic is a partial compromise between the higher world and the symbols of the lower one (ie. magical traditions). The methods of the lower world are not right in and of themselves, it's only because of their symbolism that they have significance in magic. This just wasn't what I was interested in.

It's all fluff of course. Narrative flavor. The mechanics could easily be house-ruled to mean something else. But trying to convince anyone who's read the book of this possibility is like trying to herd cats.

Consensual reality

The idea of consensual reality actually deterred me from buying Ascension for awhile. The idea that you're "as right as you can get away with" seemed like a concept better fitted to a game about dream-worlds and mind-scapes. But one implementation of the idea won me over: Marauders.

Say that it's the twink in me if you want, but I was intrigued by the idea of a character who unintentionally re-writes the world around them to fit their own personal view of how it should be. That the world at large is participating in one shared story and the individual imposes a narrative that only loosely meshes with the rest.

Awakening at first doesn't seem to do the whole "consensual reality" thing, since magic arises from a specific source rather than simply belief about how reality functions. But again, for some reason the need to work the concept of belief influencing reality on some level was included (the presence of unawakened inhibits magic a bit). Still, nowhere that I can think of is it suggested that magi cause things to happen simply by believing them. Also all magic is conscious and intentional (even if it's side-effects aren't), so even the Mad in Awakening work their spells on purpose.

Cosmology

Again, neither game won me over entirely here.

The Umbra of Ascension seems to provide more variety as far as places you can visit, but since consensual reality and spirits are inherent parts of the whole shebang I'm not entirely satisfied.

The Supernal realms seem to me supremely uninteresting since they may or may not exist and even if they do you can never reach them because there's a big evil place in the way. The spirit world is of passing interest. And I actually think the Astral realms are a better version of the old Dreaming.

I think my preferred gaming cosmos would be structured a bit more along Lovecraftian lines:

Insignificant human portion of the world + strange mundane corners + stranger other-dimensions + psychic world = universe

Both extant games tended to subsume all otherworlds into some purely mental or spiritual mode of existence.

System

Though many things about Ascension fascinate me more than Awakening, I will say this:

The system in Awakening is, hands down, better than the one in Ascension. The way Rotes work. The way Arcana work. The basic dice mechanics of the nWoD system. All much better.

The Watchtowers did nothing for me at all though. None of them really resonate with me or make me think "this is the concept I want to base a character on". To me they're just an excuse to package a bunch of arcana together. Why not let the player pick whatever set of major and inferior arcana they want? But this is a minor grumble compared to the systemic improvements that came along in Awakening.

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Well... ascension is deep, awakening is fun. It´s like the difference between good literatury and a compealing blockbuster movie. Both target different games and are well accomplished in their own corners.

I can hardly imagine a multi-tradition or crossover chronicle in ascension. It simply gets cheesy. Goth romancists, pulp fiction heroes, modern witches and cyborgs simply doesn´t work together. Technology x esoteria may be a nice concept but doesn´t really jingle my bells as actual physical conflicts at all.

Solo ascension chronicles or tradition centered stories, on the other hand, are, hands down, mind boggling. The tradition books are simply awesome. The stories they inspire and showcase simply ask to be portrayed in a game. No need for a real adventure or overreaching plot. Simply ask your players to make a real breathing character and follow it along as he goes beyond the curtain and slowly ascends. Instead of an arch enemy and a world threateaning scheme, just put the players in mundane or slightly mystic conflicts where the philosophy of their tradition is portrayed and you will have a game to be remembered for years to come. Keep your mind open, though, allow the game to be a open ended discussion and you will go out of it knowing your players ideas and beliefs more intimately and seeing the world itself a bit differently.

Awakening is constantine, dresden files, da vince code and GTA in a nice mix. It´s a game to be played with your friends, some food and a lot of laughts. It isn´t elitist, doesn´t ask for a lot of real world research nor demands a lot of harmony and years-worth of experience with its themes. It is flexible to the point it doesn´t even need to be a "Darkness" game. It may be lighty and fun, or heavy paced with a lot of special effects and high adventure. The thing i most enjoy in it is that almost any movie or books may easely become a source of inspiration. Oceans eleven, for instance, could become a great basis for an adventure. And it even isn´t about mages or anything. ^^

Awakening, though, is fantasy. I't lacks some of the human touch ascension had. It doesn't aim being more than a game. If the chronicle is to have any deeper meaning or showcase any special theme its almost completely because the storyteller is working for it, the books themselves doesn´t give much incentive and the setting defitivelly doesn´t ask for it. No exploration of the nature of reality, the human being or belief. No religion and existencialism, no discussion about values - just a imposed morality, a light touch on the theme of corruption and lots and lots of modern fantasy.

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Donor
Well... ascension is deep, awakening is fun. It´s like the difference between good literatury and a compealing blockbuster movie. Both target different games and are well accomplished in their own corners.

I'm going to have to sharply disagree with that. Awakening is just as deep as Ascension is.

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Mage: the Ascension will always hold a special place in my heart.

It was my first game to ever ST, and I've run more games in that setting than I have in any other. It has a number of fantastic ideas, and the depth to the game is incredible.

That said, there were two elements of oMage that drove up the wall, across the ceiling, and down the other wall. The first element was Paradigm. Good God. It was great from a philosophical/narrative standpoint, but once you start implementing it in your games, you have to understand multiple magical systems and interpretations in order to assist players in working magic within the flavor of their Traditions, especially when they won't go to the effort of learning the ins-and-outs themselves. This fed into the second element: Seekings. These things gave me such a difficult time. It was hard to come up with good material for them beyond the first or second one, especially when a lot of the written examples were written to work Paradigm.

Mage: the Awakening does away with both of those elements, which is mostly a good thing. Besides that, basically all of its systems work better while providing the almost the same level of flexibility.

M:tAw got rid of the two things that bugged me most about M:tAsc while getting a bunch of other things very right, so I like nMage better, even if I'll always like oMage.

Edited by Aranis

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The poll was aimed at players of Awakening, Skel, not you.

Aye, from my understanding, the idea is to take stock of the players on the Awakening board and compare the 'Played Ascension' and 'Didn't play Ascension' categories.

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WhiteWolf

Ascension's rules needed work. Many, many people liked shooting the breeze about Ascension, but I saw precious few sustained games. Personally, I think Awakening could do to be a bit less complicated, since people tend to overly fixate on individual spells now, over the back end of the magic system. Nevertheless, it's playable and the math actually works -- Ascension's math doesn't work, but unfortunately that couldn't be changed for legacy reasons.

What I have noticed with Awakening is people talking about the games they *are* running, not the games they fantasize about running, or the setting outside the context of play.

Sometimes I think I'd like a kick at the can of a "4e" Ascension, but the end result wouldn't look like anything people who like any edition of Ascension would be interested in. For the most part I'm done with it. I designed and ran Judgment (well I ran it, then redesigned it for a mass audience) and pretty much finished up, and can't wait to get back to my Awakening game (after I finish the next SWRPG miniseries for my group).

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Guest SKeLoRiC
Sometimes I think I'd like a kick at the can of a "4e" Ascension, but the end result wouldn't look like anything people who like any edition of Ascension would be interested in.

If the Sons of Ether would still be in there, I would buy it.

I'd buy three copies even.

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I'm going to have to sharply disagree with that. Awakening is just as deep as Ascension is.

That's something quite subjective, I think. What I mean for "deeper" is that ascension dedicated itself to pass a message and explore themes more than awakening does; If you have the opportunity, try to read the introduction of Mage: Asc 2nd edition, and some of the texts of the book of shadows. Guide to the tradtions also have really good texts that delve in simbolism and story design.

Ascension intended to be more than what rpg's games were supposed to be at the time it was developed. In certain way, it was carried away by the same movement WW began with Vampire 2 edition and Werewolf - trying to break the strategy tabletop game stereotype rpg had and take it into the realm of story creation and acting.

In certain ways, it was a difficult game to play and writte chronicles for. It kinda asked for specific themes to be engaged and all it's fiction and setting depended on the idea of enlightenement and revision of what reality and belief really meant for the players, not only to the characters.

Awakening can be very deep, cultural and pass real messages, any game, by the way, also can. The thing is that the books in the game line don't ask for it (as, promethean, nowady does). Reading ascension books and supplements kinda created the expectation of a games who explored themes of ilumination, growth and immersion in different life philosophies.

The fact that the chronicles I saw people playing weren´t any better or more deep than the awakening ones they are now playing doesn't change the effort the game´s writters put toward their work. Only atest that some changes were needed, and maybe what looked neat in theory didn't work in practice :P

It may be somewhat a very personal reading but the "consensual reality" and the "paradigms" served as representations for the common sense and the personal philosophies real people have. The idea of ascension was to show that the real world isn't black and white in sharp lines and definite contours. They game used fantasy elements and created struggling parties to portray conflics we see everyday - reason X faith, one's own world vision against the concepts enforced by society. Even the existence of magic itself is a real world struggle. Ascension took ideas and ideals of real world and created flesh for them in the story. It asked some hard questions, it tryied to portray people who "awakened to the truth of magic" which is the truth that everyone is unique and can make the difference, the truth that one may have his own ideas despite of what he is told and that these very ideas are as valid, precious and worth fighting for. That everyone has the right to seize their own life...

I can't see any of this in awakening, i can't draw lines and connect points leading to a real message. Mascared, Apocalypse, Oblivion and the Dreaming also had very specific messages and themes they tried to adhere. (and maybe because the games were so preoccupied in following these themes they dedicated less atention to game mechanics and real support for chronicles.)

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Donor
I can't see any of this in awakening, i can't draw lines and connect points leading to a real message. Mascared, Apocalypse, Oblivion and the Dreaming also had very specific messages and themes they tried to adhere.

Quoted for unintentional goth truism. Vampire: the Mascara-ed. Heh. :D

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Donor

I have played both of the Mage games and in truth I enjoy both. As i like the idea of your supernatural abilities only being limited by you imagination and creativity. Now I am not the biggest fan of NWOD but I do believe that Mage is an improvement over the old school one. It just feels better to me and it seems less constricting which adds in my mind more long term potential.

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Curator

I love Awakening.

I adore Awakening.

I am the Ascension Vilicus.

Make of that what you will.

Now, back to sulking and watching the shadows dance for my amuesement.

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Awakening is a good game on it's own merits, but it seems to be unfitting in nWOD. A lot of the fluff really doesn't appeal to me, particularly the Atlantis nonsense, which feels ten times cheesier than a good deal of the Nacho cheese served liberally with oWOD.

Also, I feel the towers concept doesn't fit the idea of a mage, where traditions felt a lot more appropriate for the choices.

Also, no technocracy makes me very sad.

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Donor
Also, no technocracy makes me very sad.

I thought that was a big improvement. I didn't really like the idea of reality police to begin with.

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I thought that was a big improvement. I didn't really like the idea of reality police to begin with.

I do. It fit very well with the 'break free of the confines of reality' aspect of the game and took all the conspiracy aspects of the world and makes them real.

I found it ironic that the recommended reading was The Illuminatus! Trilogy, when that series is really about all the things WoD shook off with New Mage (super secret organization controlling everything, magic being perception, etc.)

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