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Unisystem Mage

Tyler Dion
tfdion@gmail.com
Version 1.4

February 27, 2008

Contents Paradox . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
An Example of Play . . . . . . . . 7
1 Introduction 1 Permutations of Magic . . . . . . 8
Goals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
So Whats in This Document? . . 2 6 Summary Tables 8
2 Characters: It Takes All Sorts 2
7 Special Thanks 9
True Mages . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Sorcerers (AKA Hedge Wizards) . 3
8 Document History 9
Sleepers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

3 Qualities and Drawbacks: A Slight


Flaw in Your Character 3 1 Introduction
Avatar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 This document presents an adaptation of
True Mage . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Mage: the Ascension concepts and mechan-
ics to Unisystem rules, with particular em-
4 Skills: The Best At What You Do 4 phasis on the version of Unisystem presented
Awareness (Special) . . . . . . . . 4 in WitchCraft 2nd Edition. Mage: the Ascen-
Cosmology, AKA Umbral or Di- sion and the Storyteller rules system are prop-
mensional Navigation (Special) 5 erty of White Wolf Game Studio. WitchCraft
and Unisystem are property of Eden Studios.
5 Metaphysics: By Your Will Be This conversion is purely an homage to two
Done 5 very fun games and their respective authors
True Magic . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 and publishers, written out of respect and ad-
Creating Magical Effects . . . . . 5 miration. It is in no way intended as an in-
What Happened? . . . . . . . . . 6 fringement on any involved properties. It
Damage and Duration . . . . . . . 6 must be distributed freely and without charge.

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Goals that trying to insert our own into this conver-


sion would both be impossible and hinder our
Our primary goal in this conversion is to main objective of providing alternate rules.
present a viable alternate rules set for play- The essence of the game remains whatever
ers of Mage who are dissatisfied with some you choose to derive from the source mate-
of the more eccentric characteristics of the rial.
Storyteller system the various botch rules,
the dice pool mechanic, etc. To that end, we What we cover in this conversion are those
want to replicate the magic system presented things that dont cleanly travel from Story-
in Mage: the Ascension Revised as faithfully teller to Unisystem, or vice versa, such as
as possible. With the baseline established, casting effects with the Unisystem mechanic
we will present occasional sidebars on how to and certain sticky elements like Avatar and
tweak things to your liking. We also encour- Quintessence, respectively.
age readers to enact their own modifications
to suit the needs of their individual games.
Entirely secondary to that goal is mak-
ing True Magic an option for those wish-
ing to incorporate its mechanics or ideas into 2 Characters: It Takes All Sorts
other Unisystem games and settings. Be fore-
warned: True Magic may not always bal- True Mages
ance properly with other Metaphysics, as
that was not the primary intention. As the
saying goes, try before you buy. True Mages possess Awakened Avatars,
Thirdly, this is an evolving document. We which allow them to perform what has been
hope to improve the mechanics with testing variously called True Magic, dynamic will-
and suggestions from you, our readers. So working and Enlightened Science. An Avatar
please feel free to make constructive com- is part spirit-guide and part catalyst. It en-
ments and criticisms. ables the Mage to bend reality to her will, but
also motivates and pushes her to attain her
ultimate potential: Ascension, whatever the
So Whats in This Document? GM wishes to define that as.
Overall, Storyteller and Unisystem inter- True Mage characters get 15 points to dis-
change pretty well. Stats use the same one tribute among Attributes, 10 points for Qual-
to five scale, as do skills and metaphysical ities (and up to 10 points in Drawbacks),
abilities. If we havent mentioned some- 25 points for Skills and 30 points for Meta-
thing here, like a particular Storyteller-based physics. For obvious reasons, Mages must
skill or ability, it probably ports to Unisys- purchase the Gift and True Mage Qualities.
tem without any trouble. Also, we wont The Gift is what defines them, and is the ba-
get into the setting or concepts behind Mage. sic prerequisite for their other metaphysical
There are so many interpretations of the game abilities.

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Option: For high-flying super-mage action, you taged in the world of Mage, because they lack
may wish to consider using the Greater Gifted the ability to face (and in some cases even
character type and its higher point totals for True
perceive) many of the dangers that hide be-
Mages (see The Book of Hod or Armageddon: the
End Times 2nd Edition). Furthermore, the En- neath the shadows of reality.
lightened Human Quality would put True Mages Sleeper Cast Members should be extraor-
on par with the supernatural creatures presented dinary individuals (perhaps with a few At-
in Armageddon. tributes near or at the human maximum),
whose great physical or mental prowess al-
Sorcerers (AKA Hedge Wizards) lows them to be of assistance to their Gifted
allies and friends.
Sorcerers, sometimes called Hedge Wizards, Sleepers start out with 25 points for At-
are characters who practice linear or static tributes, 20 points for Qualities (and up to 10
magic. To make up for their lower occult abil- points in Drawbacks) and 35 points for Skills.
ities, Cast Members who select this Type are They get no points to buy Metaphysics (and
more accomplished in other areas. Although cannot buy any with extra points gained from
they are weaker in the area of Metaphysics, Drawbacks), nor can they purchase many of
Sorcerers have higher Attributes and skills the Supernatural Qualities.
than their more supernaturally-adept counter-
Note: Sleepers as detailed here are the same as
parts.
Mundane PCs in WitchCraft. They are extremely
These characters are less likely to attract capable, possessing both high Attributes and ex-
the attention of supernatural beings except tensive Skills. GMs desiring Sleeper characters
when they actually use their special abilities. more in line with those presented in Storyteller
They have a better chance of living a rela- Mage can start with the Sleeper guidelines pre-
tively peaceful existence, although their pow- sented here and removing 10 points from each cat-
egory, perhaps even 15 if Sleepers are particularly
ers will often lead them into trouble. less impressive than True Mages and Sorcerers.
Sorcerers start out with 20 points for At-
tributes, 15 points for Qualities (and up to 10
points in Drawbacks), 30 points for Skills and
15 points for Metaphysics. Sorcerers must 3 Qualities and Drawbacks: A
buy the Gift Quality. Slight Flaw in Your Character
In WitchCraft terms, sorcerers are every-
day Gifted magicians. A game mixing True Some Backgrounds, Merits and Flaws are
Magic as another variety of magic in general best implemented as Unisystem Qualities,
really doesnt need to make this distinction. while others would be better off as elements
of Metaphysics. As a rule of thumb, if
Sleepers the Background/Merit/Flaw is a personal trait
that is always in effect that is, it isnt
Sleepers have no supernatural skills whatso- turned off and on like a Metaphysical abil-
ever. They may find themselves disadvan- ity such as Arcane or even Dream, consider

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it a Quality or Drawback, as the details war- teller Resources scale would be appropriate.
rant. Storyteller Backgrounds and Neme- Either way, each level costs 2 points.
ses, if using the option presented in Guide to
the Traditions cost (or grant, in the case of
True Mage
Nemeses)) 2 points per level during character
creation. 5 point Supernatural Quality Prerequisite:
The Gift Quality
Avatar This Quality bestows all the abilities and
other characteristics of the protagonists of
Variable Supernatural Quality, 1 level per Mage: the Ascension. Knowingly or not,
2 points Prerequisites: The Gift and True they exert their will over reality, influencing
Mage Qualities and causing events and actions. True Mages
The Avatar is the core of the True Mage. initially rely on procedures and physical ob-
Through her Avatar, the True Mage works her jects to focus their will; these are known as
will upon the world. It is also a measure of foci. With time and personal development,
her ability to do so. Every level of Avatar al- the Mage may learn to discard or internalize
lows the Mage to channel 1 point of Essence her foci (see Abandoning Foci, pg. 203 of
per Turn for use in working True Magic; so a Mage Revised).
Mage with Avatar 2 could channel 2 Essence
points in a Turn. True Mages automatically
gain Avatar 1. Mages may further buy up to 4 Skills: The Best At What You
Avatar 3. Do

Resources As all Character Type point totals are taken


directly from Unisystem, we recommend us-
Variable Social Quality, see text on cost ing the skill list presented in WitchCraft 2nd
Resources deserves special note as both Edition. Those wanting to use the shorter
Unisystem and Storyteller have their own skill list of Mage should think about re-
versions of this trait. The difference is ducing the number of skill points available
Unisystem assumes characters are economi- to all Character Types by an equal amount,
cally stable by default, while Storyteller starts to maintain the proportions relative among
characters off as destitute. For comparisons them. Consult WitchCraft 2nd Edition for the
sake, Resources ! equals Resources -3 Poor, complete list of available skills. Listed here
while Resources 0 (Average) comes in just are a few skills worth special note.
below Resources ! ! !.
The scale the GM chooses should depend Awareness (Special)
on what kind of game she wants to run. For
example, if it were the straight WoD setting For those playing Mage with Unisystem
using Unisystem mechanics, then the Story- rules, this skill is as per Mage Revised, save

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that its considered a Special skill in Unisys- The Nine Spheres of Magic
tem mostly meaning it costs two points
per level. For those using True Magic in The sphere system remains precisely as pre-
a WitchCraft game, the Gifteds ability to sented in Mage Revised. Use sphere lev-
perceive magical workings adequately covers els and their abilities as written. A sphere
this skill. level costs 4 points during character creation.
Tradition specialty spheres cost 3 points per
level. As their association bonus, characters
Cosmology, AKA Umbral or Dimensional receive one free level of their Traditions spe-
Navigation (Special) cialty sphere. The first level in a new sphere
As per Mage Revised. Its worth noting this during play costs 8 points; additional levels
is distinct from WitchCrafts Occult skill and learned during play cost the same as during
sub-skills, in that it deals specifically with the character creation.
realms and regions of the Umbra.

Creating Magical Effects


5 Metaphysics: By Your Will Be
By and large, the determination process de-
Done
scribed on pg. 147-153 of Mage Revised can
be used as written. The altered elements of
True Magic
casting effects are detailed below.
Arete
Designers Note: The scaling difficulty of sphere
Willworking depends on a trait of True magic seen in the Magical Difficulty Modifers
Mages known as Arete. It measures what table, p. 6, is meant to put Unisystem mages
one might consider spiritual development, the roughly on par with their Storyteller counterparts,
strength to bend reality or enlightenment. In if slightly less powerful to compensate for Unisys-
tems Rule of 10. A typical starting mage with
game terms, Arete controls a Mages high-
Arete 3 and Willpower 4 has an 70% chance of
est possible sphere level, as in Storyteller getting one Success Level (see What Happened?,
Mage, and forms the basis of True Magic p. 6) on a coincidental level 3 effect, while an
rolls. Arete behaves and is noted on the char- Arete 3 Storyteller mage attempting the same ef-
acter sheet in a similar manner to Anchor for fect has a 74% chance of getting one success.
the Tainted and Anguish for Disciples of the
Unisystems Rule of 10 doesnt put a roof on the
Flesh (see Abomination Codex and Mystery
results of any one die roll. A Storyteller mage can
Codex, respectively). only hope to score as many successes as there are
A beginning Mage gains Arete 1 by virtue dice in her Arete pool. Options to regulate magic
of possessing the True Mage Quality. During include capping the number of successes a mage
character generation, further levels of Arete can accumulate in one turn to their Arete or Avatar
cost 5 points apiece, to a starting maximum ratings.
of Arete 3.

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Rolling Designers Note: In the spirit of Mage Reviseds


comments that sensory magic should be easy, the
sphere level difficulty scale starts at +1 to level 1
In Unisystem Mage, a mages Arete rating
effects.
acts as a bonus to her effect roll. Specifi-
cally, the formula for a magic roll is Arete
+ Willpower + modifiers + 1d10. What Happened?
Magical Difficulty Modifiers
Situational Modifiers You added your stats and modifiers, then
Coincidental -1 rolled your die. How do you know if your
Vulgar without witnesses -2 mage succeeded, and how well? First, if
Vulgar with witnesses -3 it all adds up to 9 or more, the effect suc-
Sphere Level Modifiers ceeded. Determining the margin of success
Level 1 (!) +1 uses Success Levels, as described in the Out-
Level 2 (! !) +0 come Table, pg. 129 of WitchCraft 2nd Edi-
tion. For the purposes of magical effects, one
Level 3 (! ! !) -1
Success Level in Unisystem equals one suc-
Level 4 (! ! ! !) -2
cess in Storyteller.
Level 5 (! ! ! ! !) -3
Other Modifiers
2 Essence Points +1
Every two running effects -1 Damage and Duration

Success Levels are spent on damage and


duration just as in the Storyteller version.
Magical Difficulty Modifiers Damage-wise, one Success Level inflicts 9
Life Points of injury. Forces effects get one
Unlike Storyteller Mage, where an effects free Success Level of damage. (This me-
base difficulty is calculated according to chanic can be extended to determining injury
the circumstances and sphere levels of the inflicted by the Avatar Storm, if the GM uti-
feat attempted, Unisystem has a target dif- lizes that setting element.)
ficulty number of 9. Alterations to the dif- Because Unisystem does not distinguish
ficulty typically come in the form of penal- between types of damage, all damaging ef-
ties and bonuses included in the standard Stat fects reduce Life Points in the same way. The
+ Skill + 1d10 formula. The related table exception is Mind-based magic, which re-
details common modifiers in casting effects duces characters Endurance Points.
in Mage altered to suit the 1d10 mechanic.
Other modifiers which includes channeling Option: To retain the randomized element of
Essence via the Avatar Quality detailed in Unisystem, each Success Level allocated to in-
Mage Revised work per usual, including the flicting injury adds 1d10 to the damage roll.
total limit of plus or minus 3 to the difficulty.

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Designers Note: To determine a ratio between Option: Those incorporating True Magic into
Storyteller Health Levels and Unisystem Life WitchCraft games may wish to consider equating
Points, we took the weapons the two systems had Paradox with Taint. In this case, wielding True
statted in common and compared their maximum Magic might be a result of having been touched
damage capability. For example, a .38 revolver by one of the Mad Gods, or some other outside
does a maximum of 4 HLs or 18 LPs. Since influence, for good or for ill. Paradoxical Taint
magical effects inflict whole health levels, with- negates Essence on a one-to-one ratio, as usual in
out a chance for soak, it seemed best to average the WitchCraft setting.
the maximum damage ratings. Of the ten firearms
in common other weapons were excluded be-
cause they rely in part on strength the ratio aver- player wanted her to be pretty good at magic,
aged to 4.5 Life Points per Health Level. Double so she has Willpower 4 and Arete 3, as well
that, because one Storyteller success inflicts two as Avatar 3, Forces 3 and Prime 2.
Health Levels, and you get 9 Life Points per Suc-
cess Level spent on damage.
Exploring the bowels of a reputedly
haunted city tenement, Jane stumbles across
a group of pale, mis-shapen creatures that are
Paradox decidedly hostile to her unannounced visit,
going so far as to lunge at her, claws out-
Paradox accumulates and dissipates at the stretched. In her defense, Jane uses a rote
same rates described on pg. 194 of Mage to call upon the fire elemental living in the
Revised. Paradox flaws can be applied us- buildings furnace to strike out at her ene-
ing the guidelines described in the same sec- mies.
tion. In terms of inflicting damage, when a The GM rules this is a coincidental version
mage gains five or more points of Paradox of the classic Forces 3, Prime 2 effect. Calcu-
see the bottom of the Creating Magical Ef- lating Arete + Willpower + modifiers + 1d10
fects sidebar, pg. 207 of Mage Revised the yields the following, as shown in Example of
GM makes a Paradox roll: total number of Casting Modifiers on p. 5.
points of Paradox the mage has + 1d10. Each
Success Level inflicts magical damage as per Example of Casting Modifiers
usual.
With regards to Essence, every point 3 (Arete)
of Paradox reduces the mages maximum + 4 (Willpower)
Essence capacity by one. So if a mage with a - 1 (level 3 effect)
normal Essence capacity of 20 were to gain 3 - 1 (coincidental)
Paradox points, her capacity would reduce to + 1d10
17. 7 - 2 + 1d10

5 + 1d10
An Example of Play
Suppose then we have an up and coming
young Hermetic mage named Jane. Janes For the effect to succeed at all, Janes

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player needs to roll a 4 or better. Whether in due course. Applying the Crowd Effect to
the effect actually does anything depends on mages workings as well as normal Paradox
how many Success Levels the roll garners. rules would be a double whammy not appro-
priate for all games.
Permutations of Magic
Acting in Concert

Mage Reviseds group magic rules apply


without alteration. As an option, or if 6 Summary Tables
paradigmatically appropriate, the GM may
wish to incorporate Essence or difficulty
bonuses for mystically significant numbers, Character Creation
as described in WitchCraft. Qualities
Avatar 2 points per level
Countermagic True Mage 5
Skills
Countering another mages effects works just Awareness (Special) 2 points per level
as described in Mage Revised. Each Suc- Cosmology (Special) 2 points per level
cess Level on an Arete roll with a -2 penalty
negates one of the opposing casters Success Metaphysics
Levels. Arete 5 per level
Increasing Arete 8 x current rating
Sphere level 4
Multiple Effects
Specialty sphere level 3
As described in Mage Revised: every two ef- Learning a new sphere 8
fects incur a -1 difficulty penalty to further Magical Difficulty Modifiers
Arete rolls. Situational Modifiers
Coincidental -1
The Crowd Effect Vulgar without witnesses -2
Vulgar with witnesses -3
The thing to remember about WitchCrafts
Crowd Effect is that its written for a setting Sphere Level Modifiers
in which magic freely exists. Disbelief, as Level 1 (!) +1
expressed by the Crowd Effect, is actually the Level 2 (! !) +0
unconscious collective channeling of Essence Level 3 (! ! !) -1
as a form of countermagic. In the Mage set- Level 4 (! ! ! !) -2
ting, however, the current reality is actively Level 5 (! ! ! ! !) -3
hostile to magic. Since the consensus be- Other Modifiers
lieves magic does not exist, it is the mage 2 Essence Points +1
who pushes against that, and suffers Paradox Every two running magical effects -1

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7 Special Thanks
Thanks go to:
Redfox Whiteruff, of RPG.net, with
whom I initially began this project; he
created the outline from which every-
thing followed.
Frank Sronce, of RPG.net, for his sug-
gestion on incorporating sphere levels
into difficulty modifiers.

8 Document History
4/18/2005 Unisystem Mage v1.0 first pub-
lished online as HTML document.
4/19/2005 v1.1 posted. Changes include re-
costing Avatar, True Mage and Paradoxs
Essence-reduction effect. Added sphere
level costs, sphere level difficulty modi-
fiers, an example of play and a trait sum-
mary table.
5/23/2005 v1.2 posted. Changes consist of
adding options for Sleeper characters.
7/2/2005 v1.3 posted. Fixed some HTML er-
rors.
2/27/2008 v1.4. Converted into PDF format
using LATEX. Removed unncessary skills
High Ritual and Hypertech. Added cost
for learning new spheres during play. Re-
moved minor typos and clarified sentence
structure.