A brief, albeit behind the times, review of Mage: The Awakening
I’m assuming you know what Mage is and the part it plays in White Wolf’s new World of Darkness. So briefly, I’m hitting the highlights of what I think are a good steps forward.
First, the separate base World of Darkness book, from which every other book in the set draws from is a great idea. It might be a bit much for some gamers to handle financially (adding another twenty-five dollars on top of the forty laid down for the particular WoD book you did want for a complete set of rules) but it provides one incredible advantage that the old series doesn’t. Continuity. You as a Player or GM can be assured that everyone you’re playing with is going to have the same description of skills and base mechanics. No more wondering if Alertness or Awareness (or sometimes both) is going to be the skill needed for spotting the tail you have. This continuity also produces another favorable effect that of leveling out the power level between the different lines.
While that may have been something of a shock to old Mage players, such as me, as a GM I am completely for it. No more having to adjust Vampires upwards to make them a threat to Werewolves or to Mages. No more having to mess around with trying to figure out how to balance things myself. It’s been taken care of.
Finally, there is the last half of the book. Completely filled in with Rotes and explanations of what dot of each sphere can do, it provides a far better idea as to what is and is not permitted than the previous editions ever tried to. It helps that the designers have explicitly stated that these are supposed to be used as a guideline and not as absolutes as players had previously used them as such.
It is going to take some time to find everything but this new Mage has potential. I’m considering getting the base WoD book to have a complete version of the new rules. If you haven’t checked out the new WoD (and if you’re anything like me, you haven’t), suck it up and take a gander. See if you can’t borrow a friend’s copy, it’s worthwhile.