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Mage: The Ascension: The Anime

November 1, 2012
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Two years ago we got what was essentially Vampire: The Masquerade in anime form with Dance in the Vampire Bund. It had its creepy naked vampire kid shit, but outside of that I really dug it for how much it mirrored that RPG.

This year we’re getting Blast of Tempest, and it’s mirroring another World of Darkness RPG in a lot of ways. This time it’s Mage: The Ascension.

Mage was my favorite WoD game back in the day. Werewolf, Wraith, Changeling, and all of those minor games never did much for me, and Vampire was pretty cool, but my interests aligned more with Mage than any of the other games. “Magic” in Mage functioned a lot like The Matrix: you reshape the rules of reality with your willpower, allowing you to perform feats that appear to be magic.

The catch is that reality fights back against your will, but not so much in the form of Agents and computers and shit (Although that stuff existed in Mage as well.). Reality has rules, and those rules are defined by the universal consciousness of humanity. What humanity accepts to be The Truth is what reality allows to happen on a daily basis, and any action that breaks these rules causes that universal consciousness to suppress that action.

To this extend, all technology in the Mage universe is magic that’s been accepted by this Paradigm. This accepted reality has been purposely molded by a secret conspiracy called The Technocracy. They set an agenda, determine what magical tricks and revelations will be “proven” by science and the like, and through their efforts these things become the new reality. Combustion engines and TVs and airplanes and the like are just various forms of magic they’ve carefully set up to be accepted by the public.

There’s plenty of other details to the Mage universe, but it’s this aspect of “truth” that connects it to Tempest. Both Mage and Tempest deal with magic tying into this concept of what is accepted reality and what isn’t. The main difference being that the source of The Truth is manipulated and internalized by humanity in Mage, while these rules are created by a wholly outside force in Tempest. This Tree of Genesis has defined reality for us, and maintains these rules in order to maintain order. That’s exactly what The Technocracy wants. Sure, they obtain this order through clandestine actions and the like, and they do it out of a desire for control, but that semblance of order and “everything has to make sense” is at the heart of both stories. And in both things, magic comes from how much those rules allow themselves to be broken– the Tree grants its protectors abilities while the individual will of someone in Mage and how much their rule-breaking conforms to some pre-set ideal determines how much they can get away with.

Funny enough, while the rules of magic are similar in each story, the central conflict appears to be mirror images. The Technocracy of Mage wants control, while the PCs act as agents of an opposing organization who want to release reality from such stringent control. While the other groups of mages use their own rules– ranging from Wiccans and Hermetic mages to various religions types and even those who use various forms of “mad” science– they don’t want their personal rules to be the only rules defining reality. With Tempest, the main characters are fighting to maintain the rules of the world, or at least are on the side of those who wish to preserve the power of the Tree of Genesis. It’s the antagonists who wish to unleash elements of chaos into reality by taking control of the Tree of Exodus.

So at this point we have an RPG that pro-chaos (to a certain extent) and an anime that’s pro-order, yet both are birthed from the same basic concepts of how magic should function.

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