One of the trends I see in a lot of GMs when they run Mage: the Awakening (and arguably, even Mage: the Ascension) is the fact that it’s almost impossible to conceal anything from the players. Investigative plots fall as Red Herrings are immediately identified and discarded, and the true culprits are found in record time. Because of this, many GMs end up frustrated due to the fact that there seems to be no way of stopping the Mages from taking incredible shortcuts to finding the bad guys.
I think that this is due to the fact that the traditional format of the tabletop RPG is that of the mystery. An event happens, and the characters are sent to investigate the matter and find the clues necessary in order to determine the dastardly individual behind the deed. It’s a fine pattern, and one that works over and over again in most games.
Unfortunately Mage: the Awakening isn’t like most games in that respect. Mages possess the gift of knowledge. The very first dot of each Arcana in the game is devoted to being able to draw out information regarding the phenomena in their purview. This makes Mages supremely good at being able to find out the truth.
So rather than trying to frustrate them by putting up all sorts of ways to slow them down on trick them from finding the truth, let them have it.
But remember, the truth hurts.
It can be argued that Mage’s brand of horror stems from knowing things.
You know that the Fallen World is a prison.
You know that there are things from the un-reality that is the Abyss that are hammering at the gates of reality, just waiting for Paradox to let them in
You know that your father is dying of cancer and you’re afraid to tell them.
You know that the boy in your house wasn’t your son after all.
And no matter what happens, you’re not allowed to close your eyes.
Ignorance is bliss in nMage. All Mages at one point or another will wish that they’d never Awakened. But the situation is irreversible, and they’re stuck knowing things that haunt them in every waking moment of their existence.
Of course, the flipside of knowing is also the fact that Mages have the ability to try and do something about it. It helps that they have magic on their side, but just because they can do something means that they should. This is where Hubris comes in. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and the Mage with insufficient proficiency with Life magics who bargains with a cruel Spirit to excise the cancer from their parent for a service is going to end up in some very interesting situations that could force them to do things that they would otherwise not do.
That’s where Mage excels. It’s not in the mystery, but what happens after and the consequences that follow from their decisions that form the meat of Mage: the Awakening games. Some stories are triumphant, others tragic, but ultimately Mages get in trouble because they can’t turn off their ability to perceive the terrible nature of reality.