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Awakening 15.000 years ago

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So, I may be starting a M:TAW game in the immediate future, and I'm toying with the idea of setting it in the past. The far past. Like the stone age.

How do you think Mage society would be? Is this immediately after the Fall of Atlantis, or is was that the stuff of legends even then?

Did the Seers of the Throne exist back then? How did they operate?

I'm not looking for canonical answers and page references here. Lets just jam and see what happens! :D

Inspiration: Disneys Brother Bear!

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Curator

Recall that the Watchtowers, Abyss, Oracles, Exarchs and all that are circa and post-Fall. Perhaps only one Supernal Realm existed, a Pangaea Supernal where the mage could access all the Arcana. Natural Thyrsus, one and all: even the Moros would have a Thyrsus vibe. No Obrimos or Mastigos, but you could get away with Acanthus since they and Thyrsus have kinship together.

You could have no Sleepers, only natural Sleepwalkers. No Unravelling. Natural Demesnes, with no need for Soulstones.

No Orders, rote skills, Seers of the Throne. But enough presence of an Abyss to allow for Scelesti and Cthulhoid entity worship. The Star Beings would be responsible for teaching humans about civilisation, greed, sin and war ...

Check out the sourcebook Legacies: the Ancient for some examples of truly ancient Legacies. The Tamers and Dreamspeakers would easily fit in here.

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Page through some of the rule changes in WoD Mirrors to create a heroic fantasy setting, personally I would set it at the founding of Atlantis and probably crib from Exalted's Dreams of the First Age as an inspiration for developing the magical city.

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Nah, I don't want fantasy. I want sorcerous cavemen!

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Curator
Nah, I don't want fantasy. I want sorcerous cavemen!

Then you only need three proto-Paths: proto-Acanthus (because the Fae are timeless, and even in the beginning of days Man was just becoming aware of Gods), proto-Moros (barrow graves, etc), and Thyrsus.

Not proto-Thyrsus. They are the most primitive, and therefore the most advanced, of the Paths. Whatever else you can say about these cave mages, the Thyrsus were here first.

Also, like I mentioned before, check out Dreamspeakers in Legacies: the Ancient, and quite possibly the Tamers (even the Tamers of Stone, because of their workings of axes, Stone Age flint, monoliths and barrow graves, and their familiarity with minerals of all stripe, from bluestone and granite to greywache and shale and slate).

You could have a primitive technologist dabbling in alchemy, smelting malachite (copper carbonate) ore hewn from the Great Orme in Llandudno, adding tin ore from Cornwall and making the first bits of bronze. Bronze would be like Primium to the ancients. Bronze also marked the end of the Stone Age phase of the Neolithic, but they really weren't to know that at the time.

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I like the way you think, Libra. Always have.

About the Orders, though; weren't the orders a part of Atlantean society? I seem to recall something about that in the core. The real question is, though, wether or not having the Orders would make the game more or less interesting.

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I like the way you think, Libra. Always have.

About the Orders, though; weren't the orders a part of Atlantean society? I seem to recall something about that in the core. The real question is, though, wether or not having the Orders would make the game more or less interesting.

The Orders - Adamantine Arrow, Free Council, Guardians of the Veil, Mysterium, Silver Ladder - didn't exist as such until after the Fall. Before, they were the Body Parts of the Dragon - Eye, Talon, Wing and so on.

(I hesitate to ask which Order got the rump)

The Paths, OTOH, only really became separate entities when the Oracles built the Watchtowers, one for each sundered Supernal Realm. So maybe back in the past, everybody either signed up to whatever landmarks there were pre-Fall.

So I had a thought about this, and came up with the idea that maybe all the mages Awaken through Mystery Plays anyway. They have a weird half-dream of climbing a mountain to reach a great thorn tree at the top, or climb into a pitch dark cave stinking of the dead, or walk across a vast plain to encounter an uncarved monolith of bluestone. Marking their place (chipping a piece off the bluestone sarsen, making a notch in the tree deep enough for it to bleed red sap, rubbing your hand in saliva-moistened red ochre and slapping it against the stone wall like a bloody hand print) connects them to the realm, and they come back Acanthus or Thyrsus or Moros, depending on the player's wishes.

Because in this primitive time, all Realms would be One - which means all the "Watchtowers" would be One, as well.

And since Orders don't exist, forget about Rotes. Rotes are Order teachings. You don't need them to stave off Paradox: all the people you'd meet at this time would be Sleepwalkers anyway, so no Disbelief or Unravelling either.

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No Orders, no Rotes. Nice, I hadn't thought about that!

I like the Awakening as a spirit quest. I'm tired now, more tomorrow.

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I was toying with the idea recently of having the players play savages during the rise of atlantis. The atlanteans have not discovered all the arcanas, and the awakened savages know even less. For some reason some arcanas are not inherently learned by humans during that time. I would follow the final fantasy 6 storyline loosely, where the atlanteans are the empire and the bad guys. The espers are powerful spirits of the world that are capable of teaching the missing arcanas, and the players are the returners, a small group of organised caveman tribes trying to survive the technologicaly superior atlanteans and their magic-empowered automatons. No orders or paths of course. Players start with but a few arcanas to choose from but with the possibility of learning more through their search for 'espers', powerful spirits of mysterious arcane knowledge.

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Guest SKeLoRiC

Another thing...

All of the effects were likely less refined and less archetypal, a lot more of the "Barbarian Magic" that the core book only references in passing and does so never again anywhere to my knowledge.

Meaning that the concept of what "Barbarian Magic" might mean or imply is truly up to you.

Maybe certain Arcana were actually completely forbidden to certain Paths in that age -- similar to the Pillars concept offered in OWoD's Dark Ages Mage -- where you only really have the Arcana and effects/spells that your "theme"/Path could reasonably claim as appropriate.

This is all long long long before Mages actually codified any sort of magical knowledge.

EVERYTHING of the modern Awakening could easily be considered as being the result of the breaking of the Ladder, thus even the rules of magic itself could be unrecognizably different prior to that moment.

The imagery of magic could really be ANYTHING you decided it to be, simply claiming that the breaking of the Ladder broke magic as well on a very fundamental level, making nothing of that prior age capable of working afterward.

Total "blank check" moment here, complete with an in story reasoning why none of it remains in any form.

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Curator

See, what would the people of prehistory know?

Between 1.5 million and around 790,000 years ago, evidence suggests that Homo erectus was making controlled use of fire. Homo erectus survived the last magnetic pole shift, 700,000 years ago, and colonised Eurasia. So the earliest evidence of the existence of humans clearly demonstrates that one of the earliest Arcana they would have learned is Forces.

About 300,000 years ago, Homo sapiens became a separate species, branching out from Homo erectus. Things start speeding up from here.

About 170,000 years ago, humans take to wearing clothes. We determined this by working out that this was the time that the louse became speciated, some lice staying as body lice and others becoming head lice.

Seriously.

About 100k years ago, domestication - dogs, pigs, cats. At that point, one can assume that the Life Arcanum comes about, because of all the different breeds of domesticated animals that begin making their appearances at that time.

c.75,000 years ago, the Toba supervolcano erupts, changing the global ecosphere. About 60,000 years ago, humans begin migrating out of Africa and spread over the globe.

50,000 years ago, the migration of modern humans spreads to the East.

40,000 years ago, Cro-Magnon Man has colonised Europe. c. 35,000 years ago, evidence of the first figurative art; the earliest cave paintings are found dating back to 31,000 years ago, but that doesn't mean they weren't being made earlier (and later erased by time).

29,000 years ago, everybody wonders where all their Neanderthal neighbours have gone. At this point, Homo sapiens sapiens is the sole human species on the planet.

From around this time, things really start happening.

c. 28,000-20,000 years ago: Harpoons, needles, and saws invented. c. 26,000 years ago: Women around the world use fibers to make baby-carriers, clothes, bags, baskets, and nets.

This would be about the time that the Arcanum of Matter makes its first appearance.

25,000 years ago: first colonisation of North America. 22,000 years ago: the oldest known tally stick.

The time period above, 15,000 years ago, is the Mesolithic period. Humans were still mostly adopting hunting and gathering: the first industrial revolution to agriculture had yet to take place for another 6-7,000 years.

About that time, the Humid Period was just beginning. North Africa was becoming a wet and fertile place, particularly around the region that would become the Sahara.

The following 5,000 years would see massive changes such as farming, herding, irrigation, polished stone axes and tools, timber longhouses, pottery and eventually the discovery of smelting - bringing about first copper, then bronze, and ultimately iron, as the invention of writing brings prehistory to an end.

And maybe, just maybe, it's your player characters who make the leaps of intuition that start bringing these things about ...

If you play it right, you can forget that Atlantis / First City stuff. This is what really happened (within the framework of Mage: the Awakening, that is).

By the way, the actual First City? If you want a real, living First City, there is one in existence at this time. Even 15,000 years ago. It's the lowest permanently-inhabited place on Earth, about 10 miles north of the Dead Sea, on the West Bank. Its name means "fragrant," (usually a euphemism for "stinking") and it would have been continually occupied, at that time, for about 5,000 years.

It is still occupied today.

It's the city of Jericho.

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Curator

And then, there are the 15,000 year old tunnels ranging from Scotland to Turkey ...

Something to unite both mages and ancient Sin-Eaters alike ...

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Imagine your Mesolithic mages, using magic to sculpt and shape the tools in the Neolithic fashion (polished, rather than knapped or chipped into shape), traversing tunnels underground - and partly in the Underworld - to emerge in a basement of a mage safe house on the outskirts of Jericho ...

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