Onyx Path Publishing

Onyx Path Publishing is the current publisher for White Wolf's World of Darkness, Classic World of Darkness, and Exalted tabletop RPGs. We also publish our own lines, such as Scion, the Trinity Continuum, and Scarred Lands, and creator-owned properties like Cavaliers of Mars.

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"Book of the Deceived" for "Mummy: The Curse" should be released soon, I had the pleasure to work - design the seven sig characters of the Deceived, and I can´t wait to share these with you! On the meanwhile, here is a detail of the cover of the previous book "Guildhalls of the Deathless". Cheers!

elusive-illusions:

Look at those grainy photos. The lighting in my room was pretty shitty but have some pictures of my latest LARP outfit anyway! Also, that starfish hair accessory was heavy and I only managed to wear it for 2 hours because it was causing me a headache.

Anyway, the whole discussed a few topics last night (again) and we actually made a little progress this time. Like, we hatched a plan to hatch a plan. Yup. Progress xD

I had a shell with me and before our session started someone suggested I should pretend I was telephoning before giving it to somebody else and saying “hey, they wanna talk to you”. Which I did. The Malk Primogen wasn’t too happy when I offered him the shell, telling to cut the crap but later on he regretted not having taken the call. He kept on asking if it was ringing again so I once told him “ah yes, I’ve got it… *starts humming* I’m in the queue, wait a moment …” He wasn’t pleased.

I wasn’t the only one who was acting weird that night - one of the Ventrues suddenly decided to take his sword and wander around in the house like a ninja. When the other players asked him what was wrong he just replied that he’s just checking if our domain’s secure. Because he had just seen a guy with long blond hair dressed in leather. Who had been dead for about a decade. Everyone was confused. (I think the Malk Primogen cast Dementation on him)

As far as I know those were the only things that really happened - we discussed a lot and tried to find a solution for a weird glyph that had magically appeared on the outer wall. In the end, we decided to just leave it as it is.

So yeah. All in all, we didn’t really do much but it was still a decent session. As far as I know our STs said there’s going to be more plot soon - and I seriously hope so because talking about the same topic over and over again gets kinda old.

Terra Incognita [Mage: The Awakening]

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We’ve spoken a lot about Mysteries and Obsessions so far in this blog, and how mages become attracted to, obsessed by, and sometimes killed by the many supernatural aspects of the World of Darkness. Most such things are unique – central Mysteries that individual chronicles revolve around, like the Secret Concord / Prince of 100,000 Leaves in Boston Unveiled, or the splintered timeline of Seattle. Each of our example settings in Awakening 2nd edition features a central Mystery like that, and the assumption of the game is that your chronicle setting probably will too. If there’s nothing weird going on in a location, it’s less likely to attract mages in the numbers needed for a Consilium. We call the concept High Strangeness, the term for it coined by Demon‘s Storyteller chapter.

Here Be Dragons

Aside from High Strangeness, Mage has some common (and less-common) types of supernatural “real estate” linked to the Awakened. Most settings will include at least a few of these; they’re presented and described for the Storyteller as tools in her kit. Whether it’s a Hallow owned (and represented by a Merit) by the player characters, or a Wending the cabal explore in a single story, these locations can be in the background or right at the forefront of a story.

Sanctums

Safehouses, ritual chambers, and laboratories, a Sanctum is a mage’s safe place. Order Caucuses and Consilia maintain large, communal Sanctums, often serving as libraries and ceremonial spaces. Everything from a cabal’s rented apartment to a Mystagogue Athenaeum or a Seer of the Throne transport nexus is a Sanctum. The building itself is represented in second edition mechanics by the Safe Place Merit, while the “Sanctum” Merit provides add-on ritual casting benefits.

Hallows

Prime (pun intended) magical real estate, Hallows are places where Free Mana gathers. They’re bought mechanically as a Merit (separate to Safe Place,) and in-setting mages covet them as resources, especially if they are large, intersect with a Ley Node, or produce edible Tass. Many Consilia have strict laws against theft or vandalism of Hallows, but that doesn’t stop inter-sect rivalries; Seers and Pentacle mages sometimes murder one another for a potent wellspring of Mana.

Ley Lines and Nodes

Visible to any form of Mage Sight, a ley line is an invisible current of energy running through the Fallen World. Leys naturally follow the Fallen World’s features, contoring to flow between esoteric features like Shadow Locii and Avernian Gates, but mages can move them with Weaving spells of Prime. Where leys intersect, they create Nodes – places where the Fallen World seems energized or drained. When a Node happens to be on top of a Hallow, the Mana the Hallow collects picks up a powerful resonance, so some mages engage in geomancy to carefully align positive Nodes onto their Hallows.

Irises

An Iris is a gateway from the material world to somewhere else. Some are open doors, others have certain conditions or only open at appropriate times. Mages can circumvent many opening conditions with magic. Avernian Gates lead to the Underworld, Locii are places where it’s easier to punch through the Gauntlet to the Shadow World, and rarer Irises lead to more unusual – and potentially deadly – places.

Verges

Verges are areas where the Supernal World or Abyss is especially strong, overwriting the laws of reality with the originating realm. Pandemonic Verges are nightmarish, twisting labyrinths. Aether verges are firestorms. Arcadian Verges are zones of weird or missed time. Abyssal verges are twisted spots where reality breaks down entirely. Supernal and Abyssal beings can survive in the appropriate kind of Verge indefinitely and see and be seen by anyone inside, which makes them doubly dangerous.

The rarest, largest, and most powerful Verges contain Irises leading to worlds where Fallen reality breaks down entirely rather than being twisted – these Emanation Realms (in Supernal Verges) and Annunaki (in Abyssal Verges) aren’t fully the Abyss or Supernal World, more like “Fallen World Verges” within those strata of reality.

Verges occur naturally, but Abyssal Verges can result from strong Paradoxes. Sleepers can’t destroy a true Supernal Verge through Dissonance, but their memories of time inside are subject to Quiescence.

Lastly, although we’ll only have room to mention the existence of Verges, Emanation Realms, and Annunaki in the corebook without detailed rules in the core, they’ll have a chapter devoted to them in second edition’s first supplement.

Demesnes

A Demesne is a weak, artificial Verge, created by a mage’s soul stone. Mages create them to enhance their ritual spaces and allow easy access to the Astral Realms, but they’re much smaller and more fragile than a Verge – Sleepers entering a Demesne cause Dissonance, and can destroy it.

Ruins of Before

Mages sometimes find strange ruins and temples that seem to have been built before the Fall, either by Atlantean mages or other cultures (and people, and things that were almost people, and things that were definitely not people) in the vanished world Before. Those surviving to the modern day are guarded by powerful spells, contain deadly secrets, and act as enticing Mysteries to the Awakened. Despite many attempts, ruins of Before are impossible to date – Time spells report inconsistent or nonsensical results – or even place into a typography with one another. It’s not that they hail from Atlantis, which no longer ever existed. It’s that they each seem to hail from a slightly different Atlantis, or a post-Atlantean, hyperborean time that never happened.

Temple Guardians and the Bound

Some Ruins of Before contain entities. Mages call those set by the ancients as watchdogs Temple Guardians, and those which seem to be imprisoned The Bound. Bound, in particular, are the source of much speculation among the Orders, who believe they were once Supernal entities exiled to the Fallen World by the Exarchs. Their rapacious hunger for Mana, and the commandments some Seers receive to keep them safely imprisoned, seems to bear that out.

Chantries and Wendings

Strange pocket-worlds obeying their own physical laws, a Chantry is the private universe of an archmaster, built within her soul. Mages seeking the insight and wisdom of the Imperial Practices, or just looking for a miracle, trace rumors of the Irises leading to Chantries of archmasters who might be able to help. Chantries remain even after their owner dies or Ascends beyond the Fallen World entirely, becoming Wendings. A Wending is a fragile half-real realm, sought out as shortcuts and secret routes between realms in the Fallen World by knowledgeable cabals, but they run the risk of shattering and depositing travelers into the Abyss and certain death. First described in Tome of the Mysteries, we’re bringing mention of Chantries into the core book to firmly pin archmasters’ place in the setting down – the things they make are more important than they are to most games, and a sidebar alongside this section describes them in brief.

Monsters, Cryptids, and Genius Locii

The strange places of the world aren’t sterile and empty. Life persists anywhere, often warping into unusual forms that become just as Mysterious as their habitat. Cryptids, humans with paranormal abilities, extinct animals, nearly-human races like the Rmohals, and other odd beings all exist. We won’t have room for rules, though, but we’ll bear “what lives here?” in mind when describing a Mysterious site. Sometimes a place itself becomes self-aware; a Genius Locus or living place, often confused for spiritual influence or the result of mages casting Mind spells.

Outward Travel: The Shadow, Underworld, and Lower Depths

After looking at the odd corners of the material World of Darkness, we take a run-through of the major and minor outer realms, those worlds separate to the world Sleepers know but still Fallen from the Supernal.

When Awakening was first written, the Shadow World was brand-new and the Underworld four years off. Death spells made occasional references to the Underworld without any detail, and other than renaming the various Ranks of spirits the Shadow World (never “hisil” in a Mage book) was as it is in Werewolf: The Forsaken.

We can’t do the Thyrsus justice without the Shadow, and although they’re less involved with the Underworld, the Moros deserve details on “their” realm, too. What we don’t have is a lot of room to cover the two ephemeral realms, so the corebook has to do a careful balancing act, getting the feeling of them across as Mysteries and settings without going into too much detail.

The Shadow

Werewolves experience the Shadow World as half-spirits – they feel its ebb and flow, the invisible currents of Essence and the cycles of predation and influence that make up its protean, living structure. Day and Night. Wind and Calm. Wilderness and City.

Mages don’t.

Unless they cast spells, a mage in the Shadow is treated like any human – a curiosity or a meal for a spirit. Spirit Mage Sight reveals slumbering or hidden spirits and gives a feeling for what’s going on, but ultimately mages aren’t natives. They can be ambassadors to the flesh, rulers of miniature fiefdoms, backers of spirit politics (using magic to generate Essence is a well-known trick), and many other roles, but they’re outsiders. Mages also lack the disgust werewolves have for Magath and Hosts – they’re often dangerous, but to a Thyrsus exploring the Shadow they’re no different from anything else in the Shadow.

The Spirit Arcanum in Awakening Second Edition feels very different to the powers of Uratha in Forsaken Second Edition; werewolves engage with the Shadow. They belong there. Mages treat the cycles and ecologies of Essence the way they treat the material world’s physics; a sad Fallen reflection of the Primal Wild, that they manipulate with spells.

The Underworld

Mages can enter the Great Below with Death spells to locate Avernian gates, divine the keys to those gates, force them open without the keys or even create entirely new gates. Even Moros don’t tend to linger in the land of the dead, though—it has a way of twisting the emotions of unprotected explorers, and the treasures and Mysteries of the dead are guarded by both extremely high-Rank ghosts and the Underworld’s bizarre “Cthonian” natives. Mages have a bit of a strange perspective on ghosts compared to other supernatural beings — ghosts are often poetically described as “souls”, but mages can see human souls using the right spells, and know – not believe, know – that they aren’t the same thing. What ghosts are, though, is hotly-debated by the Awakened. The “footprint” in ephemera left by a soul? The Death portion of a soul, broken off when the rest of it moves on? A related phenomenon to astral projection? They don’t know. Many mages use ghosts as tools, many try to treat them as thinking beings.

The Lower Depths

Mentioned in the Corebook and sporadically throughout the line, mages call any realm that doesn’t fit into the Fallen World part of “the Lower Depths.” The Depths are characterized by a lack of one or more Arcana – they’re as far from the Fallen World as the Fallen is from the Supernal – and an endless hunger for whatever quality they lack. Mages call many realms detailed in other World of Darkness gamelines “Lower Depths,” but the only thing Duat, wherever it is the Strix come from, and Inferno have in common is the name. It’s a classification for thousands of worlds, not a continuum. The corebook won’t mention any of these “crossover Depths;” focusing instead on Mage-internal places like Annwn, the Tutor’s Realm, and the Decay.

It’s also going to be the shortest section in the Setting Chapter, and, sadly, will be first against the wall when the wordcount needs trimming. But the intention is to talk about them a bit. More than the two sentences they got in first edition’s core, anyway.

Inward Travel: The Astral Realms

Mages can turn their gnosis in on itself, meditating to experience the myriad worlds within the human soul. The Astral Realms are not the dream-walking of Changeling (entering someone’s dreams is a simple Mind spell) or wandering the material world as a mental projection in Twilight (also a Mind spell!) but rather the realms within the soul. Mages entering the Astral encounter truths they didn’t consciously know, confront spiritual wounds, and explore the collective soul of humanity and the Fallen World itself.

In the current edition, entering the Astral required a 5-dot Hallow or Demesne, plus one Mana. We’re changing that to any Hallow or Demesne, costing six minus the Hallow’s rating Mana, one Mana for a Demesne of a different Path or free for a Demense of the correct Path.

Mages appear in the Astral as their soul’s self-image, influenced by their Shadow lives if they’re particularly devoted to a Shadow Name. Mages often change apparent age or fitness on entering the Astral, and some change gender. Mages with Shadow names deeply associated with a particular people (that they aren’t descended from in the material world) might even change race.

The Astral Realms are an afterthought in the current corebook, but after expansion in their eponymous book they’re one of the best parts of Mage’s setting, and we’re giving them a bit more room to breathe – about as much as the Shadow and Underworld combined. We’ll focus on what mages can do in the various regions, and reasons to venture Inside.

Astral Paths

Entering the Astral is an extended Meditation action, successes representing progress on the Astral Path – an imaginary journey the mage creates, picturing themselves traveling around or down a landscape of their own choosing. As they progress, the Path takes on the aspects of their Mage Sight, hence the name “Path”; many mages believe they are literally following their connection to the Supernal.

Oneiros

The first layer of the Astral is the realm of the individual soul. The Oneiros contains memories, vices, virtues, and vistas showing what the mage believes about subjects. Most mages meditate to their own Oneiros, but Mind spells can link two souls together to allow group exploration or the invasion of a victim’s soul. Mages enter the Oneiros to gain self-knowledge, literally confront their fears, consult with their Daimons (the goetia representing each soul’s drive to self-improvement) or even edit out traumatic memories. The first realm entered is the soul’s concept of “arrival”, and travel is a matter of emotional association and attempting to focus on the desired destination.

Temenos

The next layer of the Astral for mages is the shared soul of the human race. Every concept shared between more than one person exists as a realm somewhere within the Temenos, but may be difficult to find if especially rare. Mages are no exception – the Orders and Legacies all have representative realms in the Astral, and some astrally-oriented Legacies use their own realms as bases and staging areas for soul-voyages. Travel in the Temenos begins at the concept-world matching the Astral Path’s scenery, and proceeds as a game of free-association, finding conceptual links between scenes or seeking out a concept of “transport” or “travel”. Mages enter the Temenos to learn secrets, gather information, and influence Sleeper society – great changes to the Temenos representation of a concept alter how everyone in the material world regards that concept, although the vox populi has a habit of bouncing back hard following attempted subversion.

Anima Mundi

The final layer of the Astral accessible to mages, the Anima Mundi is the shared soul of the whole Fallen World. Travelers always arrived at the Boundary Stone, which is both the gateway to the Anima Mundi and the Temenos realm of “High Speech,” the thing that separates humanity from the world. Travel in the Anima Mundi isn’t the freeform web of emotions or concepts – when in the world’s soul, mages have to bow to how insignificant they are, and follow the prescribed paths. From the Boundary Stone, travelers enter either the realm of humanity’s devastating impact on the world or the broken, shattered world Axis Mundi, the spine of creation. From there, they enter the Dreaming Earth, the shared soul of everything in the material world, and finally to the Sidereal Wastes and the souls of the far planets and stars. Outside the soul of humanity, though, the Astral Realms constantly threaten to consume a traveler – Astral Winds pull travelers apart to fatal communion with the universe.

The Far Shore

At the very end of the Anima Mundi, in the Sidereal Wastes, explorers find a desolate beach on the shore of a jet-black ocean that only moves when they don’t look at it. The Ocean Oroboros is the Astral reflection of the Abyss, and mages can go no further. Around the ocean, the goetia representing the most fundamental concepts – the Arcana and Paradox – await travelers in citadels that might once have been bridges between the soul and the Supernal Realms. Travelers come to petition for knowledge and make deals with these “Aeons.”

Native Beings

The last part of our guided tour of the Fallen World will be the rules for ephemeral entities. We’re reprinting ghosts and spirits from God-Machine (reworded to remove angels and cut the wordage down) and adding;

Goetia: the inhabitants of the Astral Realms. Goetia have no native Manifestations (they don’t need them in the Astral) and have Influence over the concept they embody. Goetia summoned out into the material world with Mind magic exist in the “mental” Twilight of projectors and Auspex-using vampires, but can be granted ephemeral bodies and Manifestations using Spirit or Death magic.

Supernal Entities: Fae, Demons, Shades, Beasts, and Angels. Supernal entities have no Influences or Manifestations, and don’t even use Essence—they use Arcana and Mana instead.

Abyssal Entities: Abyssal beings represent the world they’re in being corrupted, and use the rules for whichever realm they were summoned in (in the Material world, this means they usually manifest as spirits, but can sometimes appear as ghosts.) Material, Shadow, and Underworld Abyssal creatures are called Gulmoth. Astral abyssal creatures are Acamoth. Every Abyssal represents some kind of twisting of reality, which they further with their influences – Gulmoth are spells gone wrong, violations of physical laws, and warped matter, while Acamoth try to make the conceptual realms they infect twist into hellish landscapes resonant with the Abyss.

Next Time!

After looking at the World, where do we go from here? Vote Atlantis to finally address the elephant in the room; the Time Before and the Fall. Vote Los Angeles to look at a specific example setting and its central Mystery.

tshirt-v20-assamiteOur RedBubble store now offers Vampire: The Masquerade clan shirts featuring the Tim Bradstreet illustrations from V20! Each of the thirteen clans are available.

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A couple of days ago someone from the UK asked me why Onyx Path’s Kickstarters only shipped to the US, because they wanted to contribute too. Others chimed in with similar sentiments.

Onyx Path’s Kickstarters have all shipped globally. In general, if you live in an area where things can get shipped to you, you can get a deluxe edition via our Kickstarters.

I’m guessing people reading the reward tiers see the lower tiers that say “ships only within the US,” and don’t read any further to the tiers that ship to non-US locations.

Here’s an example from the V20 Dark Ages Deluxe Edition Kickstarter we’re currently running (subtle, no?)

opp_ksThe non-US cost is a little higher just to account for shipping charges outside the US, but it’s still there. Any tier I can think of which has a specific US only tag has an equivalent tier for everywhere outside the US.

We’re sorry if you’ve missed a previous Kickstarter you wanted to get in on, but at least you know now and can still contribute to future Kickstarters if you like.

OPPLogoBASEglass.jpgIn case you missed any, open dev posts from the last week include:

The big news? Werewolf: The Forsaken 2nd Edition has gone off to editing. I’ve compiled everyone’s final drafts, incorporated playtest feedback, and cross-checked as best one person can that everything lines up. It’s taken a while, not just because of little things like the W20 Book of the Wyrm kickstarter, but also things going on offline. Anyway. That’s all sorted and the book’s hit a blood great milestone.

Werewolf: The Forsaken coverWhen last I blogged, we’d just announced that the book formerly known as The Idigam Chronicle was now Werewolf: The Forsaken 2nd Edition. Doesn’t time fly? In the comments to that post, people asked about three things. Well, mainly one but also a couple of others. Let’s get in to them.

Totems

Lots of people want to know about totems. Which is cool, as totems are cool.

Totem creation is the final step in pack creation, which we’ve gone in to before. The details of a pack’s totem are worked out between the characters. First, you come up with a name and a concept for the spirit, then add an Aspiration and a Ban. The Aspiration works like any other character’s, but it applies to members of the pack as well. The ban also applies to the whole pack; anyone who violates it once is forced to uphold it by the totem’s power. Should he violate the ban again, the totem withdraws its blessing from that member of the pack.

Pack members contribute dots in the Totem Merit. These dots determine two things. First, the number of totem points gives the pack a number of Experiences that they can use to buy benefits, including Merits, Skill Specialties, Skill dots, or Attributes. This benefit applies to everyone in the pack. A powerful totem could add a dot of Strength or Wits to every pack member, while others get additional Resources, or have the benefits of Striking Looks or being a Barfly.

Secondly, the players use these combined Totem Merit dots to buy the totem’s traits. The totem is, after all, a member of the pack. It joins them in the Siskur-Dah, and some Facets call on the totem’s power directly in the world of Flesh.

Primal Urge

Primal Urge is the Uratha’s innermost instinct; it’s the fire inside that yearns to overwhelm, kill, and consume. As her Primal Urge increases, a werewolf sheds her human upbringing. She becomes closer to the Goddess of the Hunt, the ultimate predator. A few werewolves, those who follow the raging beast within, feel the drive to become something more — a bodhisattva predator akin to the Firstborn, or even to Father Wolf himself.

Primal Urge still covers how much Essence a werewolf can hold and spend, and yes, we’ve updated it to bring the Essence amounts into line with the other World of Darkness games. It also covers how much Bashing damage a character regenerates each turn, from one point of damage at Essence 1, to six points of damage each turn at Essence 10. Spending one point of Essence allows that regeneration to heal lethal damage instead. It also gives a bonus to tracking, which plugs in to the new tracking system that we’ve got going on.

Primal Urge isn’t all good, of course. The higher your Primal Urge, the longer you spend in Basu-Im, the killing insanity stage of Death Rage. At higher levels of Primal Urge, you have to engage in the Siskur-Dah more often, or you start bleeding Essence and suffering Breaking Points. It also limits what you can eat. At lower levels of Primal Urge, you may just have to eat meat, or raw meat. As you grow in power, you start having to eat the flesh of other carnivores. At the apex level, you must consume Essence. Most werewolves try to limit themselves to spirits. Others turn to the far more common source of spiritual power: human flesh.

Lunacy

Lunacy takes the form of a breaking point for witnesses who use Integrity. Creatures that don’t use Integrity don’t suffer Lunacy. The roll to resist the breaking point has modifiers based on the werewolf’s form and Primal Urge.

Succeeding at the breaking point works as normal. The character gains a Condition, but also has a –2 modifier for the rest of the scene as she tries to work through the fear. The interesting thing comes when she fails the roll. Characters who fail gain a Lunacy Condition, reducing her to atavistic savagery, shutting down her ability to process the world in front of her, or makes her open to spirit possession.

On a dramatic failure, the victim of Lunacy also becomes Wolf-Blooded.

Questions?

In two weeks — no, really, I’ve set a reminder — I’m going to post again, but it’s not going to be on one (or even three) topics like it has been. Instead, ask me a question in the comments to this post and I’ll put them up in the next blogpost. Think of it like a Reddit AMA (ask-me-anything). Be as general or specific as you like, but bear in mind that I can’t talk about future books until Rich announces them.

Finally, Half Man Half Biscuit speak to the Uratha experience.