Paradox Basics

What is Paradox?

In essence, Paradox is the natural world resisting being altered by the Mage. It comes when the Mage tries to “over extend” themselves in the fallen world.

What Triggers Paradox?

  • Reach: Normally your character has (Your Arcanum - Required Arcanum + 1) Reach to spend on a spell. You can spend more Reach than that, but doing so gives you Paradox.
    • For every point of Reach over you spend, you gain a number of dice depending on your Gnosis in Paradox dice.
      • For example, a Gnosis 6 Mage that calls on 2 extra Reach for a spell would have to deal with 6 Paradox dice.
  • Inured: When you cast a spell you’re Inured to, you always cause Paradox.
    • Being Inured to a spell occurs when you use a spell that causes you to lose Wisdom and you chose to wipe that spell from all Acts of Hubris (meaning, no matter what you use the spell for, you can never suffer Wisdom loss from it again).
    • You can only be Inured to one spell per dot in Gnosis.
  • Sleepers: When normal people witness your magic, they cause Paradox.
    • Multiple sleepers don’t add more dice, but they do alter the Paradox role: a few sleepers gives it the 9-again, a handful of sleepers grant it 8-again, and a crowd of sleepers give it the Rote quality.
  • Cumulative Paradox in a Scene: Each additional time you invoke Paradox in a scene grants a cumulative 1-die bonus to the Paradox role.

How Can I Mitigate Paradox?

  • Dedicated Magic Tool: A dedicated magic tool as a Yantra reduces your base Paradox pool by 2.
  • Mana: Each point of mana you spend mitigates 1 die of Paradox.

I’ve Generated Paradox, Now What?

  • Before Paradox is rolled, the Mage decides to either Contain or Release it
  • You can Contain Paradox: You can choose to supress Paradox within yourself
    • Roll your Wisdom, compare the successes against the successes of the Paradox role
    • Each success you have removes one success from the Paradox role
      • You suffer 1 resistant bashing health level of damage for each success canceled out
    • Any leftover successes cause a Paradox Condition but do not alter the spell
  • Or you can Release Paradox: You choose to let Paradox just run its course
    • The ST rolls the Paradox die pool
    • Your spell pool is penalized by the successes rolled
    • Success causes one paradox reach per success, exceptional success causes paradox and a paradox condition
    • Paradox anomalies duration depends on how much Wisdom you have

How Does Released Paradox Work?

  • The ST gains Reach equal to successes rolled and can spend them to create Anomalies
    • 1 Reach: Undo a single Reach from the spell
    • 1 Reach: Impose a Paradox Condition on the caster
      • (See below for examples of Paradox Conditions)
    • 2 Reach: Change the subject of the spell
    • 3 Reach: Contain an Abyssal Environmental Tilt
      • These are supernatural environmental effects, usually built by the ST
    • 5 Reach: Summon an Abyssal Entity of Rank 2, +1 Rank / Reach Spent
      • These things usually aren’t friendly when they appear
  • Paradox Anomalies duration depends on the Wisdom of the Mage:
    • 8-10 (Enlightened) is a Scene, 4-7 (Understanding) is a Day, 1-3 (Falling) is a Month

What are Paradox Conditions?

  • A few ways a Mage can contract these:
    • Dramatically Failing a spellcasting role for a spell incurring Paradox
    • An exceptional success on released Paradox
    • Failure to fully contain Paradox
  • Paradox naturally lapse on their own, but it’s bad for the mage if they allow that to happen
    • 8-10 (Enlightened) is a Month, 4-7 (Understanding) is a Day, 1-3 (Falling) is a Scene
    • If your Paradox Condition naturally lapses, every spell you cast causes Paradox
  • You can “scour” a Paradox Condition out of your pattern
    • Doing so deals one lethal damage to the Mage

Example Paradox Conditions?

  • The ST can invent their own Paradox Conditions, but the book provides a few examples:
    • Abyssal Nimbus: you and everyone tied to your nimbus (both by signature and long-term ties) gain the Resonant Condition for Abyssal Entities
    • Abyssal Imago: you must spend Reach on every spell equal to the successes of the paradox role
    • Abyssal Blacklash: next spell that risks Paradox gains additional dice equal to successes rolled

Jesus Christ, Example Please?

Sure. Let’s look at a few examples of Paradox via Overreaching (spending more Reach than you have).

Containing Paradox

Bek is out with her team hunting down a rogue summoned creature from the Aether plane. A fight breaks out and the creature releases a monstrous ability that knocks her whole team for a hit, causing them all to take aggravated damage which most of them can’t heal. On her turn, she decides to heal the group but needs to heal them for as much as possible.

Bek chooses the spell Mend. It’s Life 4 and she has Life 5 (which means she has 2 Reach for free) but she really needs to go all out to keep her team from dying. She spends 1 Reach to heal Aggravated damage, 1 Reach to cast the spell at sensory range, 1 Reach to cast the spell in a turn, and 1 Reach to expand the targets so she can heal up to 5 people without taking a penalty on her roll. In this example, Bek has spent 2 more Reach than she naturally has which triggers Paradox.

Before she rolls, the ST asks her if she wants to Contain or Release Paradox. She chooses to Contain. Bek’s base Paradox pool is 3, so her Paradox pool is 6. She rolls her Wisdom of 7. Here are some possible outcomes:

Scenario 1 – Successful Resist with Mana: Bek decides to spend 2 Mana to drop the Paradox pool down to 4. The ST rolls 3 successes but she rolls 4. Since her successes are equal to or greater than the Paradox roll, she suffers 3 bashing (the successes of the Paradox roll) but otherwise harmlessly mitigates the Paradox.

Scenario 2- Failed Resistance: Bek thinks she can out-roll the Paradox and decides to roll straight up. But thanks to a bad roll, she only gets 2 successes while the Paradox roll accumulates 4 successes. Her spell goes off as normal, but she gains a Paradox Condition.

Releasing Paradox

Mac is in a fight for her life against 5 powerful spirits and is quickly losing ground. In a desperate attempt, she decides to try to wipe them all out with her most powerful Prime spell: Celestial Fire. Celestial Fire requires Prime 4 and she has Prime 4, which means she has 1 free Reach. She spends 1 additional Reach to deal Aggravated damage, 1 additional Reach to cast at range, 1 Reach to cast instantly, and 1 Reach to expand her targets so she can hit all 5 without taking a die penalty to the casting roll. Since she’s already hurt and is worried the Paradox Containment might put her under, she decides to release it. Since she’s over-extended by 3 Reach and is Gnosis 6, the ST has 9 dice for the Paradox pool.

Scenario 1 – Detrimental Paradox: Mac is counting on a low Paradox roll, the ST however manages to land 4 successes. Mac suffers a 4 die penalty to her spellcasting roll and resolves it, not dealing nearly as much damage as she hoped. Since the ST rolled 4 successes on Paradox, he chooses 4 Paradox Reach. He chooses in secret to change the subject of the spell (2 Reach), change the target (1 Reach), and impose a Paradox Condition (1 Reach). The spell goes off, and to Mac’s horror her spell tears into one of her comrades she hadn’t yet noticed trying to come to her aid and rips him apart with aggravated damage. Further, she gains the Paradox Condition Abyssal Backlash which means her next Paradox roll is increased by 4 dice, +1 die if it’s within the same scene. Things just went from bad to worse.

Scenario 2 – Successful Paradox: The ST throws the Paradox die pool and nets one success. Mac rolls her spellcasting pool at a -1 die penalty and still garners quite a few successes. The ST rules that her paradox success will manifest as a Paradox Condition, Abyssal Backlash. The next time she invokes paradox, it will be at an additional die. Mac still manages enough successes on her spellcasting roll to obliterate her attackers, however. Left in the aftermath of smoking carcasses, she casts a spell to heal her injuries then spends a turn to scour her pattern (taking 1 lethal damage) to remove the Paradox Condition. She no longer has to worry about that additional -1 next time she casts a spell (although the cumulative +1 paradox dice for spells in the same scene would still apply). Mac makes sure no one is looking then busts a little victory dance, knowing that fight could have been much much worse.

Scenario 3 – Failed Paradox: Again Mac is counting on a bad roll, but the ST miraculously manages to roll 0 successes on 6 dice. Mac then rolls her entire pool to cast her spell and nothing bad happens. Should she attempt another spell in the same scene that invokes Paradox, however, the Paradox pool increases by 1.

Paradox Basics

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