Table of Contents
- Table of Contents
- Characters: It Takes All Sorts
- Qualities and Drawbacks: A Slight Flaw in Her Character
- Skills: She's the Best At What She Does
- Metaphysics: That Crazy Hoodoo
- True Magick
- Creating Magickal Effects
- What Happened?
- Permutations of Magick
- True Magick
- Summary Tables
- Special Thanks
- Document History
This document presents an adaptation of Mage: the Ascension concepts
and mechanics to Unisystem rules, with particular emphasis on the version of
Unisystem presented in WitchCraft 2nd Edition. Mage: the Ascension and the
Storyteller rules system are property of White Wolf Game Studio.
WitchCraft and Unisystem are property of Eden Studios. This conversion is
purely an homage to two very fun games and their respective authors and publishers, written
out of respect and admiration. It is in no way intended as an infringement on
any involved properties. It must be distributed freely and without charge.
Our primary goal in this conversion is to present a viable alternate rules set
for players of Mage who are dissatisfied with some of the more eccentric
characteristics of the Storyteller system -- the various botch rules, the dice
pool mechanic, etc. To that end, we want to replicate the magic system presented
in Mage: the Ascension Revised as faithfully as possible. With the
baseline established, we will present occasional sidebars on how to tweak things
to your liking. We also encourage readers to enact their own modifications to
suit the needs of their individual games.
Entirely secondary to that goal is making True Magick an option for those wishing
to incorporate its mechanics or ideas into other Unisystem games and settings. Be
forewarned: True Magick may not always "balance" properly with other Metaphysics,
as that was not the primary intention. As the saying goes, try before you buy.
So What's in This Document?
Overall, Storyteller and Unisystem interchange pretty well. Stats use the same
one to five scale, as do skills and metaphysical abilities. If we haven't
mentioned something here, like a particular Storyteller-based skill or ability,
it probably ports to Unisystem without any trouble. Also, we won't get into the
setting or concepts behind Mage. There are so many interpretations of the
game that trying to insert our own into this conversion would both be impossible
and hinder our main objective of providing alternate rules. The essence of the
game remains whatever you choose to derive from the source material.
What we cover in this conversion are those things that don't cleanly travel from
Storyteller to Unisystem, or vice versa, such as casting effects with the
Unisystem mechanic and certain sticky elements like Avatar and Quintessence,
Characters: It Takes All Sorts
True Mages possess Awakened Avatars, which allow them to perform what has been
variously called True Magick, dynamic willworking and Enlightened Science. An
Avatar is part spirit-guide and part catalyst. It enables the Mage to bend
reality to her will, but also motivates and pushes her to attain her ultimate
potential: Ascension, whatever the GM wishes to define that as.
True Mage characters get 15 points to distribute among Attributes, 10 points for
Qualities (and up to 10 points in Drawbacks), 25 points for Skills and 30 points
for Metaphysics. For obvious reasons, Mages must purchase the Gift and True Mage
Qualities. The Gift is what defines them, and is the basic prerequisite for their
other metaphysical abilities.
Option: For high-flying super-mage action, you may wish to consider using
the Greater Gifted character type and its higher point totals for True Mages (see The Book of
Hod or Armageddon 2nd Edition). Furthermore, the Enlightened Human
Quality would put True Mages on par with the supernatural creatures presented in Armageddon.
Sorcerers (AKA Hedge Wizards)
Sorcerers, sometimes called Hedge Wizards, are characters who practice linear or
static magic. To make up for their lower occult abilities, Cast Members who
select this Type are more accomplished in other areas. Although they are weaker
in the area of Metaphysics, Sorcerers have higher Attributes and skills than
their more supernaturally-adept counterparts. This is for game balance only. The
"run of the mill," non-Cast Member Sorcerer would have Attributes and skills no
better than the human average of 2.
These characters are less likely to attract the attention of supernatural beings
except when they actually use their special abilities. They have a better chance
of living a relatively peaceful existence, although their powers will often lead
them into trouble.
Sorcerers start out with 20 points for Attributes, 15 points for Qualities (and
up to 10 points in Drawbacks), 30 points for Skills and 15 points for
Metaphysics. Sorcerers must buy the Gift Quality.
Sleepers have no supernatural skills whatsoever. They may find themselves
disadvantaged in the world of Mage, because they lack the ability to face
(and in some cases even perceive) many of the dangers that hide beneath the
shadows of reality.
Sleeper Cast Members should be extraordinary individuals (perhaps with a few
Attributes near or at the human maximum), whose great physical or mental prowess
allows them to be of assistance to their Gifted allies and friends.
Sleepers start out with 25 points for Attributes, 20 points for Qualities (and up
to 10 points in Drawbacks) and 35 points for Skills. They get no points to buy
Metaphysics (and cannot buy any with extra points gained from Drawbacks), nor can
they purchase many of the Supernatural Qualities.
Option:Sleepers as detailed here are the same as Mundane PCs
GMs desiring Sleeper characters more in line with those presented in
Qualities and Drawbacks: A Slight Flaw in Her Character
Some Backgrounds, Merits and Flaws are best implemented as Unisystem
Qualities, while others would be better off as elements of Metaphysics. As a rule
of thumb, if the Background/Merit/Flaw is a personal trait that is always "in
effect" -- that is, it isn't turned off and on like a Metaphysical ability, such
as Arcane or even Dream -- consider it a Quality or Drawback, as the details
warrant. Storyteller Backgrounds -- and Nemeses, if using the system presented in
Guide to the Traditions -- cost 2 points per level during character
Variable Supernatural Quality, 1 level per 2 points
Prerequisites: The Gift and True Mage Qualities
The Avatar is the core of the True Mage. Through her Avatar, the True Mage
works her will upon the world. It is also a measure of her ability to do so. Every
level of Avatar allows the Mage to channel 1 point of Essence per Turn for use
in working True Magick; so a Mage with Avatar 2 could channel 2 Essence points in a Turn.
True Mages automatically gain Avatar 1. Mages may further buy up to Avatar 3.
Variable Social Quality, see text on cost
Resources deserves special note as both Unisystem and Storyteller have their
own versions of this trait. The difference is Unisystem assumes characters are
economically stable by default, while Storyteller starts characters off as
destitute. For comparison's sake, Resources equals Resources -3 (Poor), while
Resources 0 (Average) comes in just below Resources .
The scale the GM chooses should depend on what kind of game she wants to run.
For example, if it were the straight WoD setting using Unisystem mechanics, then the
Storyteller Resources scale would be appropriate. Either way, each level costs 2
5 point Supernatural Quality
Prerequisite: The Gift Quality
This Quality bestows all the abilities and other characteristics of the
protagonists of Mage: the Ascension. Knowingly or not, they exert their
will over reality, influencing and causing events and actions. True Mages
initially rely on procedures and physical objects to focus their will; these are
known as foci. With time and personal development, the Mage may learn to discard
or internalize her foci (see Abandoning Foci, pg. 203 of Mage Revised).
Skills: She's The Best At What She Does
As all Character Type point totals are taken directly from Unisystem, we
recommend using the skill list presented in WitchCraft 2nd Edition. Those wanting to
use the shorter skill list of Mage should think about reducing the number
of skill points available to all Character Types by an equal amount, to maintain
the proportions relative among them. Consult WitchCraft 2nd Edition for the complete
list of available skills. Listed here are a few skills worth special note.
For those playing Mage with Unisystem rules, this skill is as per
Mage Revised, save that it's considered a Special skill in Unisystem.
Those who use True Magick in a WitchCraft game, the Gifted's ability to
perceive magickal workings adequately covers this skill.
Cosmology, AKA Umbral or Dimensional Navigation (Special)
High Ritual (Special)
This is the special and highly formalized ritual training almost exclusively
practiced by the Order of Hermes. These rituals rely on both Intelligence and
Constitution and often go on for hours, or even days. A successful Test of this
Skill always grants a specialized focus bonus to spellcasting.
Hypertech is a specialized and highly evolved form of engineering necessary to
understand and utilize hypertech devices. This Skill is primarily used by the
Technocracy, though some members of the Sons of Ether and Virtual Adepts also
learn it. A successful Test of this Skill always grants a specialized focus
bonus to spellcasting.
Metaphysics: That Crazy Hoodoo
Willworking depends on a trait of True Mages known as Arete. It measures what one
might consider spiritual development, the strength to bend reality or
enlightenment. In game terms, Arete controls a Mage's highest possible sphere
level, as in Storyteller Mage, and forms the basis of True Magick rolls.
Arete behaves and is noted on the character sheet in a similar manner to Anchor
for the Tainted and Anguish for Disciples of the Flesh (see Abomination
Codex and Mystery Codex, respectively).
The Nine Spheres of Magick
The sphere system remains precisely as presented in Mage Revised. Use
sphere levels and their abilities as written. A sphere level costs 4 points
during character creation. Tradition specialty spheres cost 3 points per level. As
their association bonus, characters receive one free
level of their Tradition's specialty sphere.
Creating Magickal Effects
In Unisystem Mage, a mage's Arete rating acts as a bonus to her effect roll.
Specifically, the formula for a magick roll is Arete + Willpower + modifiers + 1d10.
Designer's Note: This is meant to put Unisystem mages roughly on par with their
Because of the Rule of 10, Unisystem doesn't put a roof on
Unlike Storyteller Mage, where an effect's base difficulty is calculated
according to the circumstances and sphere levels of the feat attempted, Unisystem has
a target difficulty number of 9. Alterations to the difficulty typically come in
the form of penalties and bonuses included in the standard Stat + Skill + 1d10
formula. The table below details common modifiers in casting effects
in Mage altered to suit the 1d10 mechanic. Other modifiers -- which includes
channeling Essence via the Avatar Quality -- detailed in
Mage Revised work per usual, including the total limit of plus or minus 3 to
|Vulgar without witnesses||-2|
|Vulgar with witnesses||-3|
|Sphere Level Modifiers|
|2 Essence Points||+1|
Designer's Note: In the spirit of Mage Revised's comments
You added your stats and modifiers, then rolled your die. How do you know if your mage succeeded,
and how well? First, if it all adds up to 9 or more, the effect succeeded. Determining the margin
of success uses Success Levels, as described in the Outcome Table, pg. 129 of WitchCraft
2nd Edition. For the purposes of magickal effects, one Success Level in Unisystem equals
one success in Storyteller.
Damage and Duration
Success Levels are spent on damage and duration just as in the Storyteller version.
Damage-wise, one Success Level inflicts 9 Life Points of injury. Forces effects get one free
Success Level of damage. (This mechanic can be extended to determining injury inflicted by
the Avatar Storm, if the GM utilizes that setting element.)
Designer's Note: To determine a ratio between Storyteller Health Levels and Unisystem
Option: To retain the randomized element of Unisystem, each
Paradox accumulates and dissipates at the same rates described on pg. 194 of Mage Revised.
Paradox flaws can be applied using the guidelines described in the same section. In terms of inflicting
damage, when a mage gains five or more points of Paradox -- see the bottom of the "Creating Magical
Effects" sidebar, pg. 207 of Mage Revised -- the GM makes a Paradox roll: total
number of points of Paradox the mage has + 1d10. Each Success Level inflicts magickal damage
as per usual.
With regards to Essence, every point of Paradox reduces the mage's maximum Essence capacity
by one. So if a mage with a normal Essence capacity of 20 were to gain 3 Paradox points, her
capacity would reduce to 17.
An Example of Play
Suppose then we have an up and coming young Hermetic mage named Jane. Jane's
player wanted her to be pretty good at magick, so she has Willpower 4 and Arete 3,
as well as Avatar 3, Forces 3 and Prime 2.
Exploring the bowels of a reputedly haunted city tenement, Jane stumbles across
a group of pale, mis-shapen creatures that are decidedly hostile to her unannounced visit,
going so far as to lunge at her, claws out-stretched.
In her defense, Jane uses a rote to call upon the fire elemental living in the building's furnace
to strike out at her enemies.
The GM rules this is a coincidental version of the classic Forces 3, Prime 2 effect.
Calculating Arete + Willpower + modifiers + 1d10 yields the following:
3 (Arete) + 4 (Willpower) - 1 (level 3 effect) - 1 (coincidental) + 1d10
7 - 2 + 1d10
5 + 1d10
Permutations of Magick
Acting in Concert
Mage Revised's group magic rules apply without alteration. As an option, or if
paradigmatically appropriate, the GM may wish to incorporate Essence or difficulty bonuses
for mystically significant numbers, as described in WitchCraft.
The Crowd Effect
The thing to remember about WitchCraft's Crowd Effect is that it's written for
a setting in which magic freely exists. Disbelief, as expressed by the Crowd Effect, is
actually the subconscious group channeling of Essence as a form of countermagick. In the Mage
setting, however, the current reality is actively hostile to magick. Applying the Crowd Effect to
mages' workings as well as normal Paradox rules would be a double whammy not appropriate
for all games.
|Avatar||2 per level|
|Arete||5 per level|
|Specialty sphere level||3|
|Vulgar without witnesses||-2|
|Vulgar with witnesses||-3|
|Sphere Level Modifiers|
|2 Essence Points||+1|
|2 running magickal effects||-1|
Thanks go to:
- Frank Sronce of RPG.net, for his suggestion on incorporating sphere levels into
4/14/2005: Unisystem Mage v1.0 published on-line.
4/18/2005: v1.1 posted. Changes include recosting Avatar, True Mage and Paradox's Essence-reduction effect. Added sphere level costs, sphere level difficulty modifiers, an example of play and a trait summary table.
5/23/2005: v1.2 posted. Changes consist of adding options for Sleeper characters.
7/2/2005: v.1.3 posted. HTML changes, and changeover to LiveJournal hosting.
All non-conversion-specific content remains property of its owners.