With the basics in place let’s talk about making a Mage character.
Aspects are the basic building block of every character and define who they are and describe in general terms what they can do. A character can have up to 5 aspects and your Mage should have at least 3 of them defined before play starts.
It’s important to keep in mind that Aspects are always “true” and grant your character “permission” to do certain things. A Mage character will always have at least one aspect tied in with how they interact with their tradition and their magick which lets them use Magick, grants access to the Arete skill, and let’s them purchase ranks in Spheres.
Your High Concept Aspect should cover who your character is and what group they identify with. This group identity helps define how your Mage views their magick and the style of tools they tend to use when exerting their will. Group politics are also a vital part of every Mage story so knowing to whom your Mage owes allegiance can be lethally important.
- Focused Hermetic scholar.
- Unhinged Progenitor chemist.
- Defiant Orphan with something to prove.
A bit of character, an indication of membership, and a motive/role should generally be covered by the High Concept.
Every Mage starts with their feet in both the supernatural and mundane worlds. This is modeled by your Trouble Aspect which should be related to your character’s human life, their mortal limitations, and how they conflict with their awakened ambitions. Magick doesn’t necessarily conjure a full belly or a penthouse apartment.
- My family cannot know my secret.
- I have debts I can’t magick away.
- The heart wants what the heart wants, even that which is worse for it.
More established and powerful willworkers may be able to get past their “mortal” limitations and exist beyond such cares. The Trouble aspect for these creatures should highlight just how detached and removed they’ve become from mortal cares.
Next comes the aspect that defines the Mage’s relationship with their Avatar. This “higher self” can manifest in a variety of ways and can be a detached entity that advises the Mage, a shadow personality that takes over under mystic stress, the reincarnation of a witch from ancient times, or a universal genius that can only be sensed in the bliss of higher mathematics. Much like magick itself, the “truth” of an Avatar is subjective and unique to the individual.
- I hear the voice of the cosmos in every breath.
- I’m just a conduit for The Digital Web.
- Merlin is my copilot.
Note: Your Mage’s Avatar can often be invoked to grant you insight into your chosen course of action or compelled to get your Mage to engage with their destiny even if that would complicate their life in unpredictable ways.
The High Concept, Trouble, and Avatar aspects are all you need to start play but there’s still room for two more aspects which can be defined at character creation or “discovered” over the course of play. These can reflect access to an item of great power, a trauma the Mage has overcome, or just a strong belief that your character holds. Go to choices tend revolve around your Mage’s Paradigm or the pain of their Awakening.
Mage: The Ascension Powered by Fate uses the standard Fate Core Skill Pyramid
- One Great (+4) skill
- Two Good (+3) skills
- Three Fair (+2) skills
- Four Average (+1) skills
A character doesn’t need to define all their skills at character creation but they need to pick a Peak Skill (set at +4) and choose what level their Arete should start at based on their concept (see below).
Mage uses the Default Skill List for Fate Core with the addition of an Arete skill as mentioned earlier. Option: Technocrats likely have Technology instead of Crafts, though the skill should do the same things mechanically.
Since Arete is used for performing magick, and characters are assumed to be Mages, it’s worth asking: Why would you ever take an Arete lower than +4 at character creation?
As with anything it’s up to the player to decide how dedicated their Mage is to magick compared to the many other skills that they’ll need throughout an adventure. There will be plenty of times when a Mage won’t want to use their Magick: they lack the right foci, they’re surrounded by Sleepers, or the Men in Black are monitoring the area for reality deviation and the Mage doesn’t want to get bundled away into a re-education Horizon Construct.
Note: Paradox guarantees that magick can’t be used to solve every problem. Down that path lies Quiet, Marauderhood, or a lethal visit from a Paradox Spirit.
If you want your Mage to focus on her magick above anything else it makes a lot of sense to pick Arete as her Peak Skill; but keep in mind that this level of prowess usually happens because the Mage was raised with magick as part of their world view or they’ve worked long and hard since their awakening to grasp magick at the expense of all other concerns.
Arete can also move up and down a character’s Pyramid just like any other skill as the connection between the Mage and her Avatar shifts with experience.
The rest of the Core Skill List remains more or less the same,
As stated in the previous article, all Mages have ranks in Spheres. A Mage starts with 6 ranks that they can spread anywhere they like but they must put at least one rank into a Sphere associated with their Tradition, Convention, or Craft. At this stage, before spending available Stunts or Refresh, a Mage cannot have more than 3 ranks in any one sphere.
Starting Mage characters have 3 Stunts and 2 Refresh which they can spend on Stunts and Spheres. All the stunts in Core should be available in addition to Mage specific stunts (more to be detailed later) and Tradition/Convention/Craft specific stunts.
New ranks in Spheres cost 1 Stunt/Refresh per 2 Sphere Ranks, up to Sphere rank 3. To raise a Sphere above rank 3 costs 1 Stunt/Refresh per rank.
Option: Specialty Spheres associated with the character’s Tradition/Convention/Craft may still cost 1 Stunt/Refresh for 2 Ranks regardless of the Mage’s current rank in that Sphere.
Patricia Garcia, the “Gardener” of San Francisco
High Concept: Attentive Euthanatos caretaker
Trouble: My tenants are all that matter
Avatar: My previous lives guide my path
Other Aspects: Trustworthy building superintendent; A practical approach
Skills: Great (+4): Rapport; Good (+3): Arete, Will; Fair (+2): Crafts, Empathy, Resources; Average (+1): Burglary, Lore, Notice, Stealth
Spheres: Entropy 3 [Water], Life 2 [Circles], Matter 1 [Pendulum], Correspondence 2 [Glass]
- Extra Spheres – 2 Ranks in Correspondence
- Lucky Coin – You wear an ancient coin on a chain around your neck that calms hostile probabilities around you. This grants you Armor:2 against physical attacks.
- Sanctum – You maintain a sanctum dedicated to your practice and paradigm. Magick that matches your paradigm is always considered coincidental when cast within your Sanctum. Magic opposed to your paradigm is always considered Vulgar (with or without witnesses) when used in your Sanctum.
Physical Stress: 
Mental Stress: