[Mage: the Awakening 2nd Edition] Kibo Casts a Spell or two.

Posted: May 6, 2016 by pointyman2000 in Articles, Mage: the Awakening, Roleplaying Games, World of Darkness
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Now that we’ve got our sample character, let’s get to work on learning how the spell casting system works in Mage: the Awakening now.

For our scenario, Kibo has gone to investigate the latest in the Memento Mori suicide pacts. Three students had apparently killed themselves in their respective homes using suicide bags in their respective homes while streaming it to an anonymous image board for people to watch.

Thanks to her contacts with Psychologists and other counselors, she was able to get permission to visit the victim’s home, and get access to their room.

Upon entering, her Mage Senses could tell her that the ghost of the victim still lingered. With that, Kibo decides to cast Speak With the Dead, a spell that is also one of her Praxis.

A Praxis is a spell whose Imago your Mage is intimately familiar with.

While it isn’t a rote (and therefore cannot use Rote Mudras) scoring 3 successes on a casting with that spell makes it an Exceptional Success instead of 5.

You get 1 Praxis for every point of Gnosis you have.


Her starting spellcasting Pool is her Gnosis + Death Arcanum rating. With her Gnosis of 1 and Death of 3, that means she starts off with a paltry 4 dice.


Since Speak with the Dead is a Death 1 effect and her Death rating is 3, Kibo therefore has 3 free Reach to spend to tweak the Spell Factors beyond the basic settings.

She spends her Reach on:
– Moving the spell range from touch/self to sensory range
– Change the spell from Ritual to Instant Casting Time
– Change the Duration from Standard to Advanced

Kibo does not Reach beyond her Free Reach points and therefore does not generate Paradox at this step.


Kibo feels no need to expand her Spell Factors for this casting, and so incurs no further dice penalties.


with her limit of only 2 Yantras from her Gnosis rating, Kibo uses the following: Concentration (+2) and Mantras (+2) for a total bonus of +4 to her Spellcasting dice pool.


Kibo’s player then rolls 8 dice (4 base spellcasting +4 from Yantras) and gets 8,2,3,4,6,9,10,1 rerolling the 10 again to get a 4.

That gives her 3 Successes, which ccounts as an Exceptional Success for the spell. This allows her to regain 1 point of Willpower and allows her choose from a list of possible effects.

Kibo’s player opts to not choose any of the effects, the willpower return was good enough. She turns to the ghost of the victim and begins her interview…

Later on we find Kibo forced to fight for her life as she is confronted by a band of three Memento Mori cultists. She has been confronted in a late night subway train ride, and her assailants are taking advantage of the abandoned nature of the sparsely populated Subway car to try and kill her!

As her objective for the scene, Kibo has “Escape alive.” Normally this would mean that she would take actions to get away from the knife-wielding cultists, but as she’s trapped in a moving subway car, she is forced to use her magic against her opponents and in front of Sleepers!

On her turn, Kibo wants to cast Rotting Flesh (Death 3) on the target as an Improvised Spell.


Her starting spellcasting Pool is still the same with Gnosis 1 and Death 3, resulting in a pool of 4.


Unfortunately, now she’s forced to cast a Death 3 spell. This gives her only 1 Free Reach to work with!

She is forced to spend her Reach on:
– Moving the Casting time from Standard to Instant
– Changing the Range from Touch/Self to Sensory
– Change Scale from Standard to Advanced to affect up to 5 Subjects

Given that she has only 1 Free Reach, that 2 extra Reach she’s attempting is going to risk Paradox. Her extra attempt gains 2 Paradox die.


Kibo wants to be able to hurt the Cultists enough to stop them and make them run away, so she takes a -4 penalty to her dice pool in order to increase the Potency of her spell to 5.


With her limit of only 2 Yantras from her Gnosis rating, Kibo uses the following: Persona +3 and her Dedicated Order Tool to mitigate paradox Pool by -2 dice.


The Paradox Pool was initially 2 dice. It also gains an additional 1 die because of casting in front of one or more Sleepers witnessing an obvious casting of magic. After removing the 2 dice from the use of a Dedicated Order Tool, that leaves one paradox die left.

The GM Rolls and gets a 4. The magic does not invoke a Paradox.


With her Spellcasting Dice Pool reduced to 3, Kibo’s player spends Willpower to add 3 more dice.

They roll 10,5,5,9,8,2 and rerolls the 10 for a 6 for a total of 3 successes!

In her desperation, Kibo turns to her assailants and reaches out with her will, calling on her command over the forces of Death to forcibly tear away at their bodies.

At Potency 5, this deals 5 Bashing Damage to each target.

If we were applying the Beaten Down & Surrender optional rule at this point, the 5 Bashing would then be compared to the Memento Mori cultists’ Stamina ratings. Since 5 would likely exceed their Stamina Rating, they would be Beaten Down and definitely Surrender.

They recoil away from her in horror as chunks of flesh start sloughing off their bodies.

As the train comes to a stop at the next station, Kibo runs out in hopes of finding safety.

  1. Ungoliant says:

    On the first spell, as she is the one speaking to the ghosts, the range is still self, so she could have used the third reach in other way, right?

    • Hmmm… good point, I was under the impression that she was casting it on the ghost, but I think your analysis is correct. She would have had 1 more Reach to spend on something else. Good catch!

  2. Ungoliant says:

    Thanks. ^^
    Also, it is so nice to see a Gnosis 1 mage really DO something in a battle only with magic, it feels refreshing, like a return to the Ascension power levels.
    Only one thing: against three foes, how would she prevent being defeated herself before acting?
    I mean, only one Yantra can be used reflexively, so she needed at least two turns to cast the spell (or is there an exception for this with Persona?) and with stamina 2, she could be easily defeated by 3 targets. Initiative feels like really important now, more than ever.

    Regardless, even an initial, investigative mage can handle himself now with the reaches.
    That feels awesome.

    • I had to re-read the Yantra Rules, and it turns out you’re right Kibo would potentially incur paradox for her desperate act since she’d stick with the Persona, and skip the Order Tool. That said I’m glad that characters would be able to stand a chance, otherwise, she’d have to pray that her Mage Armor would hold against knife-wielding assailants.

  3. PrimumMobile says:

    I’d like to know if you run any Mage 2e games in Manila.

  4. Dourden says:


    I am new to Mage The Awakening 2nd edition, and the rules of potency are not very clear for me.

    I the book, by the “rules as written” in the book I understood that the potency of a spell is always equal to 1, no matter hoy many dots of the arcanum (page 326; Potency => standard: Potency 1, -2 dice per aditional level )

    That means that the Death spell Kibo uses to attack would inflict 3 bashing damage, not 5.

    I am correct or I misunderstood/missed something of the book?


    • Hi there,

      This is probably one of the most confusing parts of the game when I read through it, and I regret that I don’t have the exact link where DaveB weighed in with his explanation but I’ll try to go over it with you.

      Normally, a spell’s Potency starts at 1, with additional levels purchased at a penalty of -2 dice to your pool per level.

      However, the difference lies with the Primary Spell Factor rules:

      “All spells have a primary spell factor of either Potency or Duration. After penalties have been applied for the desired spell factors, the player may move the primary factor up its chart a number of steps equal to the character’s rating in the spell’s highest Arcanum minus one.”

      It’s a shame that there was no Potency chart in the book, but what it was meant to mean is that if the spell’s Primary Spell factor is Potency, then the mage gets to move the Potency up a number of steps equal to the character’s rating in the spell’s highest Arcanum minus one.

      In Kibo’s case, her starting Potency was 1, with a number of free steps equal to the spell’s highest Arcanum (Death 3) minus one, or 2 steps, then she takes on a further penalty of -4 to move that up to a final potency of 5.

      • Dourden says:

        Thank you!

        The description and the example of the book makes the interpretation confusing, including the lack of a Potency chart, as you said.

        It would have been easier if it was spelled like “A spell’s base primary factor equals a mage’s dots in the highest Arcana used in the spell, and each -2 dice penalty on the spellcasting roll increases it by one step on the applicable standard or advanced Factor chart”

        • I totally agree with you there. There was an explanation for why it was written in such a roundabout manner but I can’t seem to find it.

          Still, I’m glad that my explanation helped. Enjoy the game!

          • PrimumMobile says:

            The explanation is that Mages can dial down Potency if they want to. Also, thanks for the advice on where to look for a group. To be honest my friends and I are playing a Mage game set in Rio but the player attendance is kind of erratic and would like to try new RP groups than my usual.

  5. huxstera8 says:

    Thank you for this helpful guide. I had a question about spending Willpower.

    In your second example, you consider that Kibo is able to spend Willpower for the +3 bonus. However, in the 2nd Ed rules, (incidentally the same for Core, Vampire and Werewolf) it says you can do this for “most” rolls. The rules then state when you can do so. As far as I can see, it does not say you can with Spell Casting (either in that section or in the Quick Guide at the end of the book).

    More importantly, the Destiny Merit specifically states that with that merit in certain circumstances you can spend Willpower for the bonus (an otios benefit if you could do it anyway).

    This all points away (albeit implicitly) to not being able to spend Willpower in this way.

    I’d be very grateful for your view and or correction if I’ve overlooked something (a distinct possibility).

    Many thanks in advance


    • Hello there! I’m going to have to re-read parts of the spellcasting rules of the new edition (it’s been a while) but off the top of my head I remember that Willpower can be used to add spellcasting dice.

      But that said what you raised with regards to the Destiny Merit has merit (heh) so I’ll review it and see if we can’t find answers on official channels. Thanks for bringing it up!

      • huxstera8 says:

        Hi there. Thanks for your help. Much appreciated. I wonder if I could enlist your help on another point. I’ve joined the Onyx Path Forum but I don’t have any privileges to post, I’ve not received any email verification and cannot message anyone for help. I don’t suppose you’d know why or if your a member whether you could message an admin for me please (username is Akril).

        Thanks again for your help.

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