I just caught word from RPG.net that the Mage: the Awakening Chronicler’s Guide just came out in pdf format. But while that is awesome news, it was also quickly brought to the attention of the people in RPG.net that it was going to be the last book for Mage: the Awakening. This was evidenced by the following Afterword by Bill Bridges, the original developer behind the line.
Mage Chronicler’s Guide Afterword
And so, once more, we come to the end. A sort of well-deserved sleep after being Awake for a time, perchance to dream anew. As a certain fictional archmaster of Time said, “Nothing ever ends.” This Mage is ending, but your Mage can go on. That’s the wonder of roleplaying games – unfettered imagination to a degree unknown in traditional forms of storytelling. Okay, it sounds silly and pretentious, but roleplaying is a form of will-working. Every participant can change the story, mold what happens, and so shape time. Sure, it’s not too different from what an author does when he sits down to write, but in an rpg, anyone can do it in collaboration with others and on the fly. There’s no time for revisions and second drafts – in the heat of the game, what happens happens. An rpg session is a spontaneous group spell.
While I haven’t personally guided Mage’s line of game books for a while now, I’m damn pleased with the quality and imagination of every book in the line. Every book has made me want to play a new character – even a Seer of the Throne or a Banisher. Mage: the Awakening was launched as a step away from its Ascended predecessor, as a more purposefully occult setting, one that fit better into the murkier and more mysterious World of Darkness of its new siblings. It also aimed to provide a magic system that was less daunting to new players but still retained a wide-open malleability, one that both represented that hoary old trope of the “laws” of magic and the sheer, unbridled creativity of a will-worker. I like to think it succeeded in these goals, these purposes, these teloi. But don’t take my word for it – judging from sales figures, it was quite well received, despite some grumblings about Atlantis.
Ah, Atlantis. I’m pleased that the exegesis on that fabled isle’s legendry throughout history, as presented in Secrets of the Ruined Temple, better established its place in the setting not so much as the literal, historical realm of some New Age crystal gazers, but as a primordial archetype of the Magical City on the Hill, a Supernal idea casting many distorted reflections into the Fallen World. A memory of what was lost. A legend of the Fall.
Excuse me as I get this out of my system: Certain Forces have worked to bring us to this moment, but Mage is Primed to continue in the Minds of its players. While I can’t reveal what Time holds for Mage, I suspect Fate will conspire to revisit the Spaces it chartered. Think of this not as a Death but a new form of Life, in the hands of those who love it most. Its Spirit lives on with its players, and that’s what Matters.
All right, enough with the analogies. I’m supposed to be writing a farewell here, and this is becoming an elegy for something that’s not really going away. The books will still be here, even if in the years to come they’ll be primarily accessible to new players as PDF downloads — digital traces rather than ink on paper. In a sense, Mage is becoming more Supernal. Its truths will continue to emanate from its world of ideas into the games of its players.
I hope you continue to peel back the Veil of the Mysteries.
I suppose this does lend some credence to those that were calling the radio silence of White Wolf to mean the end of the new World of Darkness. Still, I don’t feel particularly bad, because honestly, Mage: the Awakening was a fantastic line. Sure it had a rocky start for me, with nearly a year of unlearning Ascension, and re-learning Awakening.
But learn it I did, and I completely loved the game. Now Mage: the Awakening joins it’s older sibling on my shelf as games that I absolutely have no regrets in buying, and will continue to play in the years to come.
I’d like to take this moment to thank everyone who made Mage: the Awakening possible, the artists and writers of White Wolf, and the forum people that have continued to preach the wonders of this game for these past years.
That said, I’d like to invite those who have tried to figure out Mage but have had difficulties with the concepts to check out my Mage: the Awakening 101 series of articles detailing some of the Mage Cosmology and Concepts. Who knows, they might help you get a better handle, and give this fantastic game a chance.