[Let’s study Mage: the Ascension] Part 3.3 Traditions: Cult of Ecstasy

Posted: November 5, 2013 by pointyman2000 in Articles, Mage: the Ascension, Roleplaying Games, World of Darkness
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The Cult of Ecstasy is perhaps one of the easiest Traditions to understand on the surface, but possess one of the most profound paradigms in the entire world of Mage: the Ascension.

Rooted on the value of experience and sensation, the Cult of Ecstasy believes that magic is born from the mastery of the senses and understanding that things such as obstacles only exist as we perceive them. Shift your persepective, and obstacles melt away.

It’s easy to mistake the entire Tradition as being slaves to their tools. Sensory experiences such as music, mind-altering substances, extreme emotional highs, pleasure and pain are all experiences that have merit to the Cult of Ecstasy, and many outsiders are surprised to find just how much the Ecstatics value unpleasant sensations as much as they do pleasurable ones.

Magic

To the Cult of Ecstasy, Magic is rooted in sensation. As the very basic touchpoint of our understanding of the world, being able to shift your senses or otherwise trick your mind into the varied states to enforce your Will into making the hallucination real.

To fuel this, the Cultist relies on a library of sensations that they’ve experienced first-hand. An Ecstatic familiar with excruciating pain for example, can use their familiarity to disregard it, or perhaps inflict it upon a target.

It’s no surprise then that the Cult throws itself into new experiences with what seems to be reckless abandon. The experience of new sensations is valuable, and even unpleasant ones have some use down the line.

Weaknesses

The problem of the Cult of Ecstasy lies in just how potent their tools are. It’s easy to get lost in the haze of sensations, and lose track of enlightenment because of addiction to sensations. Rather than being able to master experiences, the Ecstatic can fall into patters of abuse.

What’s more troubling is if the Ecstatic decides that they have the right to decide if someone is ready for extreme experiences and forces them upon another. The Ecstatics have a rule against infliciting experiences without consent but this rule is often disregarded to terrible consequences.

Opportunities

If any of the Traditions could be called “Approachable” it would be the Cult of Ecstasy. They can exist in any society where people indulge their senses. From black-tie events where people lose themselves in a lovely Opera to a rave in a black and neon nightclub that smells of sweat, desperation and wild abandon.

Their tools are mundane and easily acquired (if you know the right people) and their methods take the form of quiet, patient coaching to get people to look past the immediate experiences and learn from it. It’s gruelling work though, as people are often lost in the sensations more than then higher thought driving it.

Sample Characters

Non-Traditional Schoolteacher – Everyone’s heard about the outdoors being the best schoolroom, but you’re one of the few people that practice it. You have a prime opportunity to teach people the wonders of learning by doing, making the most of their new experiences in the outdoors to open their hearts and minds to the possibility of wonder outside of the concrete, glass and chrome cities that your kids were born in.

Thrillseeking Hitman – Unlike the others, you’re not interested in enlightenment. You’re just looking for the ultimate rush. You’ve worked hard in the business, taking down targets for other people, and each job presented you with unique challenges. But soon techology, guns and goons began to wear thin… good thing you Awakened. Now you’re up against bigger game. You hire yourself out to damn near anyone, having fought vampires, other mages, cyborgs and things too weird to even put a name on. You don’t believe in ideologies or sides, only the rush, and you’re always chasing after the next kill.

Good Samaritan – Experiences shape reality, and so you aspire to craft the experiences that make the world inherently BETTER. Peeking into the future and fiddling with coincidences make you the ultimate instigator of a chain of goodwill, a Pay-it-forward series that you plan to keep going for as long as possible. While some Ecstatics go for bigger experiences, you know that crafting a chain of smaller ones have the potential to gain the inertia needed to spin off into its own thing.

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Comments
  1. I recently used an echo of the Cult of Ecstasy in my Shadowrun game.

    But, yes, certainly one of the traditions that is easiest to understand.

    • Hey there!

      Wow, what were the Ecstatics like in Shadowrun? I’m curious as to what you pulled off with them as that’s certainly a combination I’ve never thought of doing. 😀

      • They were described as “followers of an obscure philosophical movement of the 20th Century” and they had taken over an abandoned block in the barrens and were running businesses (of various legalities) out of it. The leadership were definitely magically active.

  2. bwgustaf says:

    so would an Ecstatic that focused on purely natural sentastions (feeling the grass under your feet, rubbing your hands together, standing in the rain, etc.), be a weird faction of the cult, a specialized ecstatic paradigm, or something between the two?

    • Hey there!

      I think that the kind of paradigm wouldn’t be too weird for the Ecstatics, as it focuses on hyperawareness of otherwise “mundane” experiences. I can see it being something that starts as a paradigm, and catching on to gain some measure of a following as a faction of the more moderate members of the cult.

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