Paradigm

Before you can create magical effects, before you can give your character stats, before you can even finish your character background, your paradigm must be created. Your paradigm is the culmination of your magical beliefs and practices. It permeates everything you do, and as a mage becomes more enlightened, who they are becomes indistinguishable from what their paradigm is. While some paradigms are more mutable than others, all paradigms will shift, evolve, and sometimes even have fundamental changes as a mage’s understanding of the universe and how it works deepens.

Your paradigm should consist, at the very least, of some simple bulleted reasons for why magic works for you. The more in-depth, the better, but don’t forget that your paradigm and grow, change, and become more elaborate as you become more enlightened. All paradigms utilize foci to aid in making magic not only easier, but possible at all. While a paradigm will explain your overall theory or beliefs as to why you can do magic, a focus help narrow that down into how specifically those beliefs are applied to create magical effects. A focus can be nearly anything, tangible or ephemeral, and can be something as specific as a magic wand that allows you to channel your will to create a fireball, or as broad as alchemical sigils that will change from spell to spell, depending on the desired effect. For broader foci, the specifics will be hammered out when designing rotes (a.k.a. commonly used spells and effects)

Broad examples of how different paradigms, foci, or magical effects work could be:

  • Ritualized movements, incantations, or ingredients passed down from generation to the generation — I.E. The Old Ways
  • Using blood to write sigils
  • Faith in a higher power — accessed by scripture, penance, or sacrifice
  • Specific astrological criteria
  • Sheer willpower — usually accompanied by additional beliefs
  • Meditation or dreaming
  • A sixth sense that allows for mental effects
  • Potions, elixirs, and tonics
  • Hypertech robotics or computer programs
  • Death for Life
  • Sacrifice — Blood, Innocents, Items of Value, etc…
  • Gemstones, candles, burning incense
  • Wands, Staves, rings of power
  • Tattoos and scars
  • Mind-altering things, like sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll

A good rule of thumb is to broadly define your paradigm and begin narrowing it down to a specific or cluster of foci for each sphere, and then further specify for each rote. While the mechanics for magic can tend to allow for god-like characters, the goal is not to power-game, but rather create a believable character with a reasonable paradigm. In that regard, you paradigm should not only include why and how you can do magic, but should also contain limiting factors or taboos that provide some flavor substance. Providing such limitations moves your magic from the completely impossible category, into the begrudgingly believable and just barely possible. After all, the more humanity can theoretically believe in your magic, the easier and more possible it becomes. That is why the science, logic, and reason paradigms are the ruling belief systems.

Examples of such taboos and limitations could be:

  • Druids may only be able to shapeshift during a full moon
  • Pagan witches may require the correct season, solstice, or planetary alignments
  • Not offending your gods by performing magic while the sun is out
  • Not dirtying your holy self, by interacting with the dead flesh

This section is just a quick reference guide and you should discuss all paradigm, focus, rote, magical effects with the Storyteller. Additionally, creating specifics effects is elaborated in the Magic Creation section.

Paradigm

Nights of Fire darkragabash