Lex Arcanum: Part 3

Posted by Peter Gates

The third instalment for Lex Arcanum, and arguably the most amusing for any storyteller, Paradox.

Lex Arcanum

A Fate Core Conversion for Mage: the Awakening

These rules were developed as an amalgam of several other rule sets for Mage I discovered via Google+ (including the Mana Stress and Paradox rules created by +Paul Vencill), which I unfortunately did not note down at the time and have since forgotten. I apologise to the original developers of those rules, but at the same time thank them for spurring me on to develop these rules. If someone knows who developed the precursor to these rules, please let me know so I can give the appropriate credits.


Paradox Rating

Paradox is represented by a character with the following attributes:

Aspects: Always Watching, Fueled and Shaped by Mortal Belief
Skills: Paradox (Level Based on Spell Cast, and the Paradox Taint in the area)

The Paradox rating for a given casting is determined by the base paradox level, modified by the Gnosis Rating of the mage casting the spell (+½ Gnosis, rounded up), and any Paradox Taint from previous castings in the scene.
Paradox Rating = Base Rating +½ Gnosis +Paradox Taint

Base Rating (Environmental Rating)

Use the following table to determine the Base Paradox Rating for a given scene. This rating is a measure of how ‘fixed’ a local reality or consensus is to the mundane world view, thus making changes to reality more dangerous and difficult to control.
  • Great (+4): Highly ordered, banal locations such as high tech facilities and military installations
  • Good (+3): High density urban areas, tourist locations, etc
  • Fair (+2): Medium density urban areas, outskirts of main city (but not the suburbs), etc
  • Average (+1): Suburbs and towns, urban fringes, urban alleyways and parks
  • Mediocre (+0): Small towns and villages, zoos, suburban alleyways and parks
  • Poor (-1): Farmland, rural areas, highways, rest areas, areas of high transience
  • Terrible (-2): Wilderness and similar, ley line nexuses, etc.
  • No Roll: A Demesne created with a mage’s soul stone

Paradox Taint

The Paradox taint of an area comes from the ‘static’ generated by previous Vulgar spellcasting attempts in the area, which over a short period of time make paradox more and more likely.

When a spell is cast, determine if it is Covert, Improbable, or Vulgar (without and with witnesses). The Paradox Taint of a scene increases by +0, +0/1, +1 and +½ Highest Arcana dot used, respectively.

The Paradox ‘Skill’

The Paradox skill may be used to Overcome, Create Advantages, Attack, or Defend, much like a normal skill. The Create an Advantage and Attack actions are used in direct response to a Vulgar casting, while the Overcome and Defend actions are used to wear away existing spells, and to prevent the casting of others, respectively.

Overcome: The weight of Fallen World will eventually bring down any Vulgar spell which tries to remain.  The GM can use the Overcome action to try and weaken or destroy vulgar Aspects that last more than a few Exchanges. Gnosis does not get added to the Paradox rating for this effect.

Create an Advantage: The Fallen World does not always respond with direct punishment for the mage or mages who are the cause of the insult to it.  On some occasions, Vulgar magic has side effects or ripples in reality which can cause complications to future spellcasting or make the eventual backlash that much more severe.  In game terms, these ripples are represented by Situational Aspects levied on the scene or spellcaster. They may defend with Physique or Will, as appropriate to the Aspect that is being applied.

Attack: The Fallen World Attacks a mage using Firmament to punish them for using Vulgar magic.  This is the most common action taken in response to a Vulgar casting. The attack roll is Defended by the mage’s Physique or Will.  Shifts of Stress can be soaked by the Physical or Mental stress tracks or taken as Normal Consequences or Paradox Consequences (see below).

Defend: The Consensus can only Defend against spells using the With Witnesses stunt (See below). Gnosis does not get added to the Paradox rating for this effect.


The Paradox 'character' always has access to these stunts.
  • Disbelief: When there are Mortals present and in view of the Vulgar spell, the Fallen World can use its Paradox rating as Active Resistance against the spell’s effect.  If the spell Fails, the Fallen World applies the Shifts to the caster as Stress. 
  • Sleeper Witnesses: When a mortal witnesses a mage casting a vulgar spell, the Fallen World gets +2 to its Paradox Rating to Attack or Create an Advantage against that mage in response to that spell.

Paradox Consequences

Anytime you cast a Vulgar spell, you risk causing a paradox.  If you do, you take a paradox backlash, damaging your physical or mental stress track.  This damage may be reduced through either normal consequences or paradox consequences (see below).
  • Havok (-2): After your spell’s initial and intended effect, it goes out of control and begins to run amok.  Taking a Havok reduces the damage of a paradox backlash by 2.
  • Bedlam (-2): After your spell goes off, the abyss enters your mind driving you insane. You receive a temporary aspect to represent this insanity, its length based on the power of the spell cast.  Taking a Bedlam reduces the damage of a paradox backlash by 2.
  • Anomaly (-4): After your spell goes off, reality begins to breakdown in the entire scene.  The actual effects of this are often related to the supernal realm of your path.  Taking an Anomaly reduces the damage of a paradox backlash by 4.
  • Branding (-4): After your spell goes off, your soul and body is branded and / or warped by the abyss. You receive a temporary aspect to represent this, its length based on the power of the spell cast. Even after the effects have faded, a mark will still remain on your pattern for those that can see it.  Taking a branding reduces the damage of a paradox backlash by 4.
  • Manifestation (-6): After your spell goes off, an abyssal entity is drawn into the material world.  Taking a manifestation reduces the damage of a paradox backlash by 6.