[Mage: the Awakening 101] Arcana Basics – Time

The last of the ten Arcana deals with Time.  A phenomenon that all things experience, the passing of time is the subject of much romanticism and literature.  How often do we find ourselves wishing that we could see back in time to a certain event, or perhaps look forward to see what the future has in store for us?  To Time Mages, such flights of fancy are a reality, and so it falls to them to exercise great wisdom and care in their use of this Arcanum.

If anything, Time is the Arcanum that requires even more care and deliberation as Spirit.    Being able to peer into the past and the future grants one a measure of respect for the importance of ones actions.  Few Time Mages cast spells of this Arcanum carelessly, as they, more than anyone else are fully aware of the repercussions of their actions.

Arcana Levels

Time is a powerful Arcana, capable of effecting changes that will echo throughout reality in one way or another.  Certain futures and even history can be averted with enough power, leading the Time Mage to be tempted to try greater and greater acts of Hubris as they gain in power.  After all, no one but you will know how you cheated on your wife, if that event never happened.

Among the phenomena that fall under the purview of the Time arcanum are: divination, prophecy, temporal acceleration / deceleration.  The following is a general list of effects that a mage can pull of with varying degrees of mastery of the Time Arcana:

Initiate

  • Judge an ongoing or recent event to determine if it is beneficial or harmful
  • Perfect timing
  • Counter perceivable vulgar Time spells being cast
  • Perceive Time Magic and Resonance
  • Sense Temporal Disturbances

Apprentice

  • See the future in terms of generalities
  • Check the future for the outcome of a simple undertaking (ex: coin toss)
  • Study the outcome of a current personal action and compensate to improve chances of success
  • Postcognition
  • Grant another with the ability to perceive Time Magic and Resonance
  • Form an armor out of Time magic

Disciple

  • Accelerate oneself to act faster than normally possible
  • See the future in more specific terms than in the Apprentice level
  • Rewind time by 1 turn
  • Bestow another with armor from the Time arcanum

Adept

  • Cause another to move slower than everything else in the timestream
  • Predict the immediate future with absolute clarity
  • Gain prescriptive advice on how to change the future
  • Withdraw into a personal time pocket
  • Cause objects or people to “stutter” forward in time

Master

  • Push a location outside the flow of time
  • Shunt an object into the far future
  • Sculpt personal history, redefining who the Mage is
  • Stop Time

—-

Usage & Tips

Time is one of the hardest Arcana to be subtle with.  When paired with Fate, this Arcanum can be pretty powerful, stacking bonus after bonus for a Mage while making sure that no surprises are there to spoil your plans.  That said, Time is also an Arcanum that requires quite a bit of foresight to use as most of the spells in the mid-to-high tiers are Vulgar and will bring paradox down on a careless mage rather quickly.

A good way to use Time magic is to have it reinforce your plans.  Perfect Timing, and Glimpsing the Future are available to starting Mages and are efficient means to bolster your chances of success.  Upon reaching the rank of Disciple in the Time Arcanum, even mistakes can be undone with the ever-popular Shifting Sands, which rewinds the events of a single turn, allowing the Mage to take a different course of action as soon as he sees that he’s painted himself into a corner.

Time also serves as a powerful supplementary Arcanum.  With it, one can “hang” a spell for a period, effectively keeping the spell in stasis until it is time to unleash it.  It is a common practice for Mages expecting trouble to have a few high potency spells that have been prepared earlier in an elaborate time-consuming ritual in their sanctum carried around in a hung state, ready to be unleashed upon whatever poor, unfortunate soul earns their ire.

Recommended Rotes

  • Perfect Timing – An extra die to any mundane roll is a useful thing.
  • Glimpsing the Future – Rolling twice for an action and keeping the better result is extra insurance against failure.
  • Shifting Sands – The ability to rewind time, even for just a turn is a valuable ability that can mean avoiding an otherwise inevitable circumstance

5 thoughts on “[Mage: the Awakening 101] Arcana Basics – Time

  1. Ah, the ten are complete. A marvelous job!

    On Time, as a Storyteller I must say that this is the Arcana that can have the greatest impact on the story. Luckily my Time mage is an expereienced player with a long background in Ars and M:tAs, both as a player and GM.

    Still, Time is one of my favourites, I think.

    1. Hey there Nitromidas!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the Arcana Basics articles, they actually took a lot more effort and thought than I originally expected them to be, but I’m glad I put them up.

      Time is an awesome Arcanum, but I agree that it’s the one with the most impact on a story. Certain other rotes, like the Save Point rote that the Free Council book has, can seriously impact a game by nearly invalidating large swaths of a session if the player decides to pull back to a time frame he saved himself in say… three session hours ago. :p

      1. hmmm with the “save point” rote maybe you can house-rule that to be more balanced like let’s say… if he uses that rote the farther back in the past he wants to go back, he has to make a roll or spend power with ever increasing cost and/or difficulty in order to do so, necessitating that the player has to choose wisely when and where to use the rote.

        The reasoning behind this fix is that if you’re swimming in the vast lake of time and you wanna remember and go back to a certain point of the lake, the farther you move away from that point as time progresses or you move forward through time the harder it is to get back to that specific point in time.

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