Characters joining the campaign midway, or backup/secondary characters may be of any template. Let me know what you’re planning though, since some are easier to connect to the story than others.
All new characters start with 67 XP, this will be updated to reflect the general XP gain current characters have had.
Mage specific background.
There are two mage-specific things to consider in your backstory, your Awakening and Order.
The Awakening is described on pages 30-31 of the Mage book, except all mages awaken through astral travel, not mystery plays. How your travel played out depended on which path you took/which Watchtower you visited. Each watchtower is in a specific Supernal Realm, and your journey reflected that realm, requiring you to overcome at least one personally relevant obstacle flavored according that realm. A list of watchtowers/paths/realms is linked.
Your Order represents which mages guided you to the stage of development you’re in now. Each order has different goals and methods. The question is, why are you here instead of trying to study with other mages of your order? Personal development and study? Death of a mentor? They just disappeared on you? Something like that. You can choose to be an apostate if you wish. A list of order flavor is linked. The mechanical benefits are generally about rote bonuses.
Once you decide on your character concept, I’ll provide a 12 question questionairre. For every three questions you answer with at least a paragraph, you start with a bonus XP. As with all starting XP, it’s applied after you apply your dots. If you’d rather not duplicate writing efforts, and you write a story where the questions are obviously answered in similar detail, that counts.
For attributes you have 12 dots to place however you see fit. The 5th dot still costs double.
For skills you can either use the normal 11/7/4 distribution with the 5th dot counting double OR you can have 22 points to distribute however you wish with a skill cap of 3 dots.
You are allowed to reduce your wisdom for XP as provided for in the book. As with all starting XP, it’s applied after you apply your dots. We’ll be using the same morality-equivalent + alienation scale in use in other games. However, should you choose this option, I’m calling for derangement rolls when we start the game as if you had actually lost those dots of wisdom.
Please use the Motivation system in Mirrors instead of the virtue/vice system. I’ve yet to see someone actually trigger their virtue, and I’ve probably seen vice triggered a few scenes per campaign. This suggests they don’t flow into character concepts very well.
Pick three specific motivations that drive your character. Once per scene per motivation when your actions are driven by your motivation, you get a point of willpower back.
A couple examples from the book of motivations and specificity:
Avarice: What is the focus of your greed? What are the reasons behind it? How far are you willing to go to get what you want? Are you a hoarder or a waster?
Honor: Is it personal honor? Family honor? Do you have a “code?” What sorts of acts are dishonorable to you? Do others perceive you as honorable?
Survival: Do you place your personal safety above
the needs of others? Are you willing to fight to survive?
Lie? Cheat? Steal? What sacrifices are you willing to
make in order to survive?
You are encouraged to be creative in finding the right motivations for your character.
Questionnaire Bonus XP
Repeated from above, for every three questions in the questionnaire you answer with at least a paragraph, you get a bonus XP. If you’d rather not duplicate writing efforts, and you write a story where the questions are obviously answered in similar detail, that counts.
Once I see your character background, I’ll give you a list of flaws to choose from (some from the book, some not). If you have a flaw in mind that completes your character concept perfectly that I don’t mention, tell me.
Regardless of how old you are, you came into your powers fairly recently. But how removed you are from old-world society affects your skillset. Apply the free dots at the beginning of statting up the character.
If you’re first generation (age 45-55) take a free skill dot in academics to represent your memory of the old world.
If you’re second generation (age 30-40), take either one free skill dot in academics or a free skill dot in survival to represent the emphasis in your upbringing.
If you’re third generation (age 15-25), take a free skill dot in survival as bonus for growing up in a more low-tech environment.
The character ages have gaps to emphasize the distinction, so there’s less of an issue of a single year having a discrete mechanical difference. If a key part of your concept is being an age that isn’t in the above ranges, let me know.
Academics: Given the general lack of research opportunities, Academics is now used for anything regarding Old-World knowledge (that’s not covered by science) in addition to it’s normal function. This includes city-specific geography, culture, technology usage (not construction or repair), and history.
Crafts: In order to use a craft skill to build or repair a complex machine, you need to make an intelligence-science or intelligence-computers check to see if you understand the principles well enough to not botch the repair job. This stuff isn’t common or easily accessed knowledge anymore. Then (generally) a dexterity-crafts check to actually build/repair.
Computers: There are very few computers in use. What few there are, though, are incredibly useful as they’re usually the ones in contact with the communication satellites. This might also see limited use in cracking into experimental Remnant bases and using the contents therein, which may or may not come up at all.
Science: In line with the changes to drive and firearms, science balances the scope of its application by requiring specialties to access the benefits of higher dots.
The two dot ‘practitioner’ level represents the general familiarity with technology, the scientific method, and general scientific principles.
To gain the benefits of the three dot ‘professional’ level (or higher), a specialty is required in the specific field of science you’re working with. “Field” implies either physics, chemistry, botany, zoology, environmental science, economics, or other areas of similar scope.
Athletics: Athletics still includes all thrown weapons, but not archaic propelled weapons. Athletics is generally an expression of channeling a body’s power/stamina/reflex, which fits with throwing things. But using means beyond your body itself to power ranged attacks does not.
Drive: Drive can be used for driving vehicles such as cars, or riding animals such as horses. To balance the broader scope of the skill in this setting, specialties are required to access higher dot benefits.
The two dot ‘practitioner’ level represents the general spacial awareness and reflexes necessary to handle either at speed, as well has a basic familiarity with the components and gear used in either case.
To gain the benefits of the three dot ‘professional’ level (or higher), a specialty is required in a kind of either animal or mechanical vehicle driving. “Kind” implies car, motorcycle, big rig, boat, or plane for mechanical vehicles and equine, moose, bear, etc for animals. Once you’ve taken a specialty in one of those kinds, you can apply your dots to other uses in that category. In other words, if you have 3 dots in drive not no specialty, you only get the benefit of 2 when you try to drive a car or big truck. If you take a specialty in truck driving, you have an effective pool of 4 when you drive the truck, and 3 when you drive the car.
To ride animals, they must be tamed or broken via animal ken to make it a useful mode of transportation rather than a rodeo bullride. Normally you can’t train exotic animals like moose or bear as mounts/beats of burden. But you’re mages with access to life magic, so who knows?
Firearms: Consider Firearms to mean “Ranged Weapons”. To balance the broader scope of the skill in this setting, specialties are required to access higher dot benefits.
The two dot ‘practitioner’ level represents your familiarity with the variety of firearms and older ranged weapons and the ability to figure out how to make the business end head toward the other guy.
To gain the benefits of the three dot ‘professional’ level (or higher), a specialty is required in the kind of ranged weapon you’re using. This works like the drive skill, only with firearms/non-firearms. Once you’ve taken a specialty in firearms (including explosives), you can use all your dots with any other firearm. If you take a specialty in a non-firearm you can use all your dots with other non-firearms.
“Kind” implies archaic firearms, modern firearms, heavy weapons, explosives, bows, crossbows, or assisted-throwing-devices. Weird exotic weapons need their own specialty. Everything is based off dex except bows and assisted-throwing-devices which are based off strength (in proud defiance of D&D tradition). Compound bows still use dexterity.
Social skills are more valuable as they get rolled whenever you socially interact with NPCs. You say what you’re trying to do, and the dice say whether it worked or not. Socialize covers introductions and small talk, empathy covers receiving subtlety expressed information, persuasion covers making requests, and subterfuge takes over detecting lies from empathy. Empathy might indicate they’re uncomfortable, but it takes subterfuge to tell it’s because they’re lying.
Except where it’s spelled out in the rules as opposed or contested, these rolls aren’t. Success means you operate smoothly in the social framework you’re interacting within. Failure means that your handshake was too firm, you seem withdrawn from the occasion, you miss the nuance in comments, or your reasonable non-contested request came off as presumptive.
The gangs might be running the highways as much as the cities, but the protocols are much the same. Dealing with the lawless wild-side of humanity is quite likely, and streetwise helps you with knowing how the road raiders operate just as much as finding the black market in a Fang city.
Resources vary from the description, given the circumstances. Mostly in terms of dollar amounts. The currency for your town won’t mesh with many other economies once you start moving (unless you do something unexpected). So resource dots refer to the stash of trade goods you’ve squirreled away for a rainy day. It’s useful mainly for trading for other items. Resource dots for items that wouldn’t age well, like complicated weapons or electronics, may increase by one or two dots. In short it’s more limited than in a typical setup, but still useful.