Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Inspirations for Mage

I figured as I begin work on the venue, I should come up with a list of inspirations that I take out and would like to put in.



Books
Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher:
            The Dresden Files is about a Wizard named Harry (No, really) who advertises his skills freely in the Yellow Pages (He's there, under Wizards). It's a noir tale full of beautiful people, horrible images, and snarky narrators.
            Harry Dresden is, for all intents and purposes, an Obrimos. His main magic is Fire, Wind, and Kinetic Force. If that isn't Forces, I don't know what is. Later on in the series, he acquires the use of Soulfire, the very very fires of creation. This is a good analogy to Prime spells as well. The magic in the series is bent very much on respecting the laws of physics while also doing the impossible. Creating fire means pulls heat away from something. Also, the Wizard's ability to destroy technology can be seen in some ways as a form of Paradox.
            Also, there is something about this series that has established a very dense and lush universe around it. There is more than just Wizards running about, as there are several shades of Vampire, Werewolf, Fae and everything in between. There is a reason that there is a Dresden RPG out there, it's as lush and dark and modern as the World of Darkness, so much so that they could almost be cousins.

Mistborn, by Brandon Sanderson
            Mistborn is a series revolving around Allomancy, the use of abilities fueled by ingested metals. With this, special people are granted the ability to enhance their senses, their durability, the ability to push or pull metal objects, control emotions. It's set during a time when the Lord Ruler, the hero who fulfilled the Prophecy and became a living god to defeat the Deepness. 1000 years later, his despotic reign continues. The story focuses on a thieving crew of Mistings, those who can only burn one kind of metal, and therefore have one kind of ability) and two Mistborn who can burn all metals in their bid to rob the Final Empire.
            There are a lot of parallels with Mistborn and Mage. The source of the powers are vastly different, but the Mistings and Mistborn all have their areas of expertise, like each particular Path. Also, each person with powers gained those powers by Snapping, experience such a powerful trauma that the power inside that opens up. This is not unlike the Awakening itself, except there is no Watchtower in Mistborn but Kredik Shaw, where the Lord Ruler lives.
            Mistborn can best be seen as "This is what happens when the Seers win." The Lord Ruler, with his invulnerability and his nearly infinite power, could very well be an Exarch made manifest. The Iron Ministry, with it's bureaucratic Obligators and nightmarish Inquisitors would not need much to be Seers, hell, they could probably teach the Seers a few things. Also, many of the creatures that appear here can be very good entities from the Abyss.

Nightside, by Simon Green
            If Dresden is an Obrimos, than Simon Green's John Taylor is definitely a Mastigos. Like Dresden, Taylor is a detective, except his beat is in the Nightside. The Nightside is the parallel realm close to London, where the rich and extradimensional normally do their dealings.
            As I said, Taylor is definitely playing to the Mastigos appeal. His special ability is his "Private Eye" which allows him to see and find anything. This can be anywhere from grandmother's pearls, to the weak spots on a magical construct and the ability to take it and push it into disaster. His favorite trick, when being held up by a gun, is to simply say "Your gun is empty." The gun magically has been emptied of its bullets, which then come raining out of Taylor's hand.
            Also of note is the cast of characters, every single one of them is dangerous. From on-again off-again bounty hunter girlfriend Suzy Shooter (aka, Shotgun Suzy, aka Oh Christ, it's her, RUN), his on-again, off-again ally Razor Eddie, the Punk God of the Straight Razor, and his on-again, off again(noticing the pattern?) friend Alex Morrissey, a descendant of Merlin who runs the Oldest Bar in History. Each one is distinct and memorable. Also of note are the many numerous Eldritch Abominations, that range from "Mildly Alien" to "Lovecraft was a pussy"

TV Shows
Witchblade
            Based on the Top Cow comic book, Witchblade is the story of NYPD detective Sara Pazzini, who is thrust into the realm of the supernatural when she is bonded to the mystical weapon known as the Witchblade. There are those who wish to stop her from learning the secrets of the blade, however, and barring that, try to control her.
            The Witchblade is, without question, Mage's definition of an Artifact. The Witchblade has passed through history since the dawn of time, and is created from something not of this World. The character of Kenneth Irons would make a lovely Seer or Scelestus in game. Likewise, the character of Gabirel Bowman, collector and seller of weird and old artifacts, is a Mysterium character if there ever was one.
            One of the key things to factor into this is the fact that Sara should be considered a Sleeper who has Awakened herself. She is brand new to the really real world, and is often struggling with the new reality she’s in while many of those around her feel she is losing her mind. This is one of the more endearing parts of the series, this struggle between low ideal cycnicism against higher concepts.

Carnivale
            It was mentioned as a inspiration in the corebook, and for damned good reason. Carnivale is the story of the last generation of Magic, killed off by the detonation of the Atomic Bomb in trinity in the 1940s. It is the story of two men, Ben Hawkins, and Justin Crow. They have been chosen, for reasons that become revealed through the series, to represent the forces of Light and Darkness in an eternal struggle. The question becomes, who is the Light, and who is the Dark? Ben Hawkins finds his place amongst the a traveling Carnival, where the other sideshows and outcasts. Justin finds his place as a Reverend in California. There stories are almost separate, but when they meet, all hell breaks loose.
            Carnivale could just as easily be seen as a Mage game set during the Great Depression. The progress of Ben and Justin, in their own ways, reflects the learning of Arcana and Gnosis (more so that last part). They go from one trick ponies to be reality bending demi gods, capable of tremendous accomplishments.
            Special note is to the character of Samson, played by David Lynch favorite Michael Anderson. Samson’s speeches and the beginning of each season set the stage perfectly between the war that is going on. He tells you everything and nothing at the same time and would make a beautiful NPC in games.

The Prisoner
            The Classic Series starring Patrick McGoohan as the unflappable ex spy known only as Number 6. The Prisoner is a tale of an unnamed spy being sent to The Village, where everyone lives in peace and subversion. Number 6 attempts to maintain his integrity, individuality and sanity as the denizens of the Village (including the ever changing Number 2) attempt to make him break. After a while, it becomes less about what he knows, and more about breaking him. By the end, even the audience is left with their sanity taking a dive.
            Honestly, this is very much a series that is required viewing for when to handle the Seers of the Throne or even the Guardians of the Veil. Secrets, the ability to keep them and the ability to retrieve them, is one of the central themes. Also, the struggle to maintain individuality should appeal to those Guardians who have sacrificed their own for their knowledge of Masques.
            The pervasiveness of The Prisoner is such as there is a Legacy for the Free Council that is, roughly, based on The Prisoner. The Blank Badges are a deliberate subversion of McGoohan, however, as they embrace the anonymity in their various methods to take on conformity and and the Lie.

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
            The classic cyberpunk franchise, Ghost in the Shell is the story of a special forces agency Section 9 in a futuristic Japan where cybernetics and AI have become the norm, and the lines between man and machine are blurred to the point of being impossible to tell.
            This series should be required viewing, as it is both one of the more visually stunning while also philosophically heavy. The series doesn’t pull it’s punches with dialogue, one of the shows main focus is the status of the soul as it undergoes change, something that is Core to the Mage venue. I can see this series being something that would appeal to the Adamantine Arrow fans in the Mage, as it shows the use of the individuals strengths and abilities to enhance the teams efforts. It’s also required for anyone playing Free Council, this is the Free Council triumphant, as the technology has mimicked magic.
            Special note goes to some of the main characters. Most particular acclaim goes to the character of the Laughing Man, whose abiltiies to hack minds and eyes would make him the perfect Mastigos Subtle One. The Character of Kazundo Goda is a Guardian of the Veil, with his high end gambits and his focus on identity and roles. Section 9 Chief Daisuke Aramaki would make a decent Silver Ladder, as his imperious nature can literally make a room full of bickering politicians stop on a dime and get to work.

Warehouse 13
            Warehouse 13 is the story of government agents tasked with retrieving historical objects with amazing abilities and storying them in the eponymous and probably sentient Warehouse.
            In fairness, this should be titled “ Mysterium: The Series.” The show focuses on collecting historical and magical items and the adventures the characters have to go through to obtain them. This is the Mysterium purview written all over it. Artifacts are described as magical items that have been past through history over time.
           
Full Metal Alchemist
            One of the more prolific anime's to come to the west. Full Metal Alchemist is the story of Edward and Alphonse Elric, young teenage brothers gifted with the power of Alchemy. Together they tried to use alchemy to bring back their deceased Mother. They failed, spectacularly. Now they travel to restore the damage they caused to themselves.
            This show should be required viewing for Mage, and especially the Moros. It covers a lot of ground and territory about the nature of power and using it responsibly. Most notably, however, is the concept of magic costing. To do something that is grand or vulgar brings about the potential for disaster. The damage done to Ed and Al can be seen as a form of Paradox, especially what results from the alchemy they tried to employ. Homunculi come off as crosses between Abyssal Creatures and Goetic Summonings rolled into one.
           

Movies
The Matrix
            Well, yes, this was going to show up. Matrix is the story of a man who wakes up to find the reality he’s lived in is a simulated lie fabricated by machines. It’s a war on two fronts as they outrun the mechanical monsters in the real world while simultaneously taking on the simulated governing programs in the simulated reality. Meanwhile, the main character learns of his new powers and abilities until he exceeds the expectations of both realities.
            I've said it before to others, but I think Mage is alot like the Matrix, except that we're all Neo, just with better acting abilities and a third act that (hopefully) doesn't suck.

Dark City, by Alex Proyas
            The slightly older brother to the Matrix that no one ever pays attention to. Dark City is about a man who wakes up and finds his world is not what he thinks it is, and finds it populated with strange beings, and as he learns more about what is really going on, he comes into his own power.
            Again, very similar to the Matrix, but it has a level atmosphere that the Matrix doesn't have. The antagonists of the film again have that Abyssal/Seers vibe, where they control everything that the literal Sleepers of the world do. Instead of making the "the System that runs everything" a given fact, they show HOW they run everything.
Limits of Control, by Jim Jaramusch
            Due to the nature of the movie, very little is explained. The best that can be surmised is that the movie is about a silent Hit Man who goes about the process of gathering intel from his informants as he is about the make a hit against a powerful target. Each contact speaks to the Lone Man (as he is referred to) in a long, monologue-ish diatribe that may or may not have anything to do with the task at hand, but somehow, it is.
            This entire movie feels like a Guardian of the Veil mission. All of these non sequitur discussions seem like false leads, are analogies that grant the Lone Man some insight that allows him to quietly and coolly dispense with his target. By the end of the movie, the Lone Man has achieved a kind of Zen Hit Man level in his task. Worth watching to get a feel for Veil or playing a Subtle One.


Eventually, I will make lists for the other venues

Later.