[Mage: the Awakening 101] Arcana Basics – Prime

Prime is the Arcanum of manipulating the stuff of magic (and reality) itself.  It is, in many ways, the most difficult of the Arcana to comprehend, as it deals nearly exclusively in phenomena that are alien to mortal experience.  Whereas mortals understand (even at an elementary level) the workings of Matter and Life, and experience the passing of Time and understand the concept of placement in Space, only Mages gain the necessary means to perceive the mystic workings of Prime.

This perception and understanding isn’t limited to magic, as Prime mages also become keenly aware of what makes an object seem more “real.”  With this, they are capable of forming illusions and other effects that mimic reality enough to fool or outsmart their opponents.  Clever Prime mages also find means to disguise their spells, sometimes altering the resonance of a spell to appear to belong to a different Arcana, fouling up any attempts to counter the spell in time.

Arcana Levels:

Mages come to understand that mastery of Prime is mastery over the very stuff of magic.  By manipulating the source of all energies that other Mages pull on to cast their own spells, a Prime mage can easily nullify spells being woven by other mages, or imbue normal items with magical properties.  Among the phenomena that fall under the purview of the Prime arcanum are: hallows, illusions, magical imbuement, mana, resonance and tass.  The following is a general list of effects that a mage can pull of with varying degrees of mastery of the Prime Arcana:


  • Analyze an enchanted item
  • See through Prime-based Illusions
  • Dispel existing spells of any Arcana as long as the Prime Mage has 1 dot in the Arcana of the target spell
  • Inscribe a Grimoire
  • Perceive magical resonance in great detail


  • Activate an enchanted item, without the need of any contingent triggers (like a code word to activate)
  • Counter any spells, vulgar or covert without the need to identify which Arcana is being used
  • Raise a shield against magic
  • Bestow another with the ability to perceive magical resonance in great detail
  • Define a mystic space where Mages can engage in a Duel Arcane
  • Alter his aura to appear to be something else
  • Obscure his own resonance while analyzing or dispelling another Mage’s magics


  • Weave a protective barrier to prevent a soul from being taken away
  • Manifest Celestial Fire
  • Channel mana from a hallow without the need to perform an Oblation
  • Selectively Dispel an ongoing spell from chosen targets
  • Create Tass
  • Change the appearance of an area’s resonance, concealing its magical nature or altering its quality
  • Dissolve Tass
  • Enchant an object to strike against Twilight or Shadow Realm Creatures
  • Imbue an Item with a spell
  • Imbue a creature with Mana
  • Manipulate Ley Lines to create (or disrupt) a node of energy
  • Bestow another with a shield against magic
  • Create an inanimate Phantasm
  • Transform another person’s Aura


  • Awaken a dormant Hollow
  • Grant Mage Sight to a Sleeper
  • Create a directed, moving Phantasm
  • Create a Durable Phantasmal Object
  • Siphon Essence and convert it to Mana
  • Siphon and object’s Integrity and convert it into Mana
  • Dispel magic without limitations
  • Suppress an active Hollow


  • Create a Complex Phantasm
  • Create Hallow
  • Create a Magical “Dead Zone”
  • Siphon Mana from a target Mage


Usage & Tips:

Prime is a subtle Arcanum, but it can still surprise you now and then.  Majority of Prime’s effects deal directly with phenomena that matter strictly to mages, with the best Mage Sight spell, as well as the best means for a Mage to disguise oneself as an ordinary sleeper.  Prime is not an Arcanum for those who like big flash effects, like growing claws, or hurling fireballs.  A Prime Mage must understand that like in all magic tricks, Prime’s greatest potential lies in two primary actions:  Dispellation and Illusion.

A sufficiently sneaky Prime mage is a horror to most others.  By concealing his resonance, a Prime Mage usually flies under the radar of some of the most paranoid of other mages.  Working swiftly, the Prime mage can also strip other mages of their abilities, getting rid of wards and other spells, making other mages much softer targets.

The ability to create Phantasms are also pretty useful.  Whether it’s just for a diversion, or if you need something right away, being able to pull a weapon or armor out of nowhere (with good durability once you become an Adept) means that Prime Mages are never really caught unarmed.  When combined with the other Arcana, Prime is capable of remarkable feats of enchantment as objects are imbued with other spells.

Recommended Rotes:

  • Dispel Magic – While this requires that the mage have at least 1 dot in each of the Arcana of the target spell, the ability to undo long duration spells is pretty handy.
  • Counterspell Prime – I can’t imagine playing a Prime mage without this as a rote.  Counter any spell without the need for having a dot in all the arcana of a spell.  This is a potential lifesaver.
  • Imbue Item – Being able to bestow an item with a spell that the wielder can use is another good option for those who prefer to be tinkers and craftsmen.

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