Lex Arcanum: Part 4

Posted by Peter Gates

The final instalment for my Lex Arcanum setting, in this post we discuss character creation and advancement.

Lex Arcanum

A Fate Core Conversion for Mage: the Awakening

Character Creation

1. Name and Shadow Name 

Decide on your character’s name and Shadow Name (false name used in supernatural society).

2. High Concept

Your High Concept (p.32 FC) is a phrase that sums up what your character is about— who he is and what he does. It’s an aspect, one of the first and most important ones for your character. This should include something that identifies him or her as a mage.

3. Trouble

In addition to a High Concept, every character has some sort of Trouble (p.34 FC) aspect that’s a part of his life and story. If your high concept is what or who your character is, your trouble is the answer to a simple question: what complicates your character’s existence?

4a. Other Aspects 

After you have your high concept and trouble, add three more aspects (p.38 FC) that you feel describe your character. These can be worked out during creation, or they can be left until you have started playing. Each aspect you’re missing from these reduces your Refresh by 1, which is regained once you've added in the aspect.

4b. Background (Optional)

Phase One: Your Adventure

The first phase is your character’s first true adventure—his first book, episode, case, movie, whatever—starring him.

Phase Two: Crossing Paths

In the next two phases, you'll tie the group together by having other characters contribute a minor, supporting role in your adventure, and vice versa.

Phase Three: Crossing Paths Again

Once everyone’s done with phase two, you’ll trade adventures with whatever method you chose before, so long as everyone has an adventure that isn’t theirs or the one they just contributed to.

5. Skills

One Great (+4) skill
Two Good (+3) skills
Three Fair (+2) skills
Four Average (+1) skills

Skill List:
Academics, Athletics, Burglary, Contacts, Crafts, Deceive, Drive, Empathy, Fight, Investigate, Lore*, Notice, Physique, Provoke, Rapport, Resources, Shoot, Stealth, Survival*, Will.

6. Gnosis and Arcana

Every mage has a Gnosis rating, and determines how high you can raise your Arcana ratings and how high your Paradox Rating is. This starts at 1 (and costs 1 Refresh), and may be increased on a 1 to 1 basis by reducing Refresh.

In addition, each mage begins play with two Primary Arcana, which represent the Arcana that the mage is naturally gifted at, and one Inferior Arcana, which the mage finds the most difficult to understand and control. These will affect how high you can raise those Arcana based on your Gnosis rating.

The available arcana are: Death, Fate, Forces, Life, Matter, Mind, Prime, Space, Spirit, and Time.

Once the Ruling and Inferior Arcana have been chosen, the player then allocates six (6) points to put into any Arcana of their choosing, adding the Arcana to the existing skills columns of the character, and ensuring that for any one level of skills, the level below it has a number of skills equal to or more than it. For example, 3 Fair (+2) skills must be supported by at least 3 Average (+1) skills.

Furthermore, the following rules apply when choosing to spend Arcana ratings:

Ruling Arcana - May be up to one level higher than your arcana cap
Inferior Arcanum - May be at most one level lower than your arcana cap

Arcana and Skill Caps

Gnosis also determines a mage's maximum arcana and skill cap, as follows:
  • Gnosis 1: +1 Arcana, +4 Skill
  • Gnosis 2: +2  Arcana, +4 Skill
  • Gnosis 3: +3 Arcana, +4 Skill
  • Gnosis 4: +4 Arcana, +5 Skill
  • Gnosis 5: +5 Arcana, +5 Skill
  • Gnosis 6: +6 Arcana, +6 Skill
  • Gnosis 7: +7 Arcana, +7 Skill
  • Gnosis 8: +8 Arcana, +8 Skill
  • Gnosis 9: +9 Arcana, +9 Skill
  • Gnosis 10: +10 Arcana, +10 Skill

7. Stunts and Refresh

Pick or invent three or more stunts (p 87, or p 53 for filling them in during play). Determine how much Refresh you start play with (6 – Number of Stunts - Gnosis).


Rotes are a form of stunt that apply to Arcana rolls, and are created much the same way as normal stunts. For example: Alter Form (Rote) - You get a +2 bonus to Life Arcana when using it to Create an Advantage involving the alteration of your own form.

8. Stress Tracks

Stress = 2 + ½ Skill
Physique → Physical Stress
Will → Mental Stress

Mana Stress → 2 x Gnosis

Sample Character

Here is a sample character made with the rules above and given a slight advancement to showcase how that works. You can find other examples under my actual play reports.

Matthew “Cursor” Gu

Refresh: 2 (Base 3 + 1 Advancement - 2 Gnosis)
Gnosis: 2

High Concept: Awakened Police Detective
Trouble: Hiding From His Shameful Past
Aspect: Scarred by Alcohol Abuse
Aspect: Love is Above All
Aspect: Spirit Vanquisher

Ruling Arcana: Prime, Space
Inferior Arcana: Forces

Skills (6 + 1 Arcana + 20 + 3 Skills):
+4: Shoot, Athletics
+3: Prime, Notice, Physique
+2: Space, Will, Rapport, Stealth
+1: Death, Spirit, Provoke, Drive, Investigate

Stress Tracks:
Physical 4
Mental 4
Mana 4

  • Hide and Seek Expert: +2 to Investigation when using the Overcome action in searching for stuff stashed away by people.
  • Imbue (Rote): +2 to Prime when using Create an Advantage to  imbue magical energy into objects.
  • Hard to Shake: +2 to Drive whenever you’re pursuing another vehicle in a chase scene.

Advancements: +4 Skills/Arcana; +1 Refresh