[Mage: The Suppressed Transmission] Introduction to Fireballs

Mage: The Suppressed Transmission is a Mage: The Ascension campaign I ran from the summer to winter of 2005 at Quarterstaff Games. I think of it as my first “real” campaign and present my session reports, mostly written just after the action, exactly as they are, excepting for the occasional typo correction.

This is the post I made to RPG.net the day after the session:

Well, the group met last night, but we didn’t move forward in the narrative itself.

It had occurred to me earlier in the day that, given everyone was pretty much brand new to the Mage mechanics, it might be wise to have a sort of “training level,” like in those video games where you can practice combos and special powers without worrying too much about all the things you have worry about moving through a regular level.

Now, I had figured everyone would want to move forward with the story and that we’d integrate a tutorial aspect into the narrative we’d begun last week. Instead, the players leapt on the idea of an out-of-continuity training experience. So we ran with that.

The backstory, for my own enjoyment, was they’d uploaded into a Digital Web simulator for young mages, where they could practice their magic in relative safety. Paradox, coincidence/vulgar, etc all applied. I plopped them down in an alley outside a rundown tenement and threw various obstacles at them they had to bypass one way or another, typically by thinking up neat ways to apply their sphere magic.

It was pretty fun, actually. We played up the video game aspect a fair bit. I had bobbing help icons to give hints when it wasn’t obvious where to go or what challenge was there. When the computer geek character figured out dead players respawned back in the alley, he tried to suicide himself back to full health. All he got was a gunshot hole through his skull and gore sprayed everywhere.

The upshot was everyone became a lot more comfortable with what their magic could accomplish, the finer points of the mechanics, my interpretation of the coincidental/vulgar divide and all that fun stuff. Plus, everyone enjoyed themselves, so I’ll say it was a rousing success.

Next week, we get into the real stuff of the matter. Should be fun.

To use a video game metaphor, if Convocation was an opening cutscene, then Introduction to Fireballs was the tutorial level that immediately follows. I remember the players really taking to the idea, probably at least four of them were hardcore video game players, if not all of them.

I also remember one player being really concerned that this play session “not count.” Like, he didn’t want it to have any connection to the narrative of the campaign, expressing concern when I improvised something about the characters uploading to a Virtual Adept’s reality simulator in the Digital Web.

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