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Sources of Magick $4.99
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Sources of Magick
Publisher: White Wolf
by Harald B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/26/2020 20:17:57

Tl;dr: Are you a Mage Storyteller? If yes, then you want this.

This supplement fills a much needed niche in the setting of Mage, that of the Node. Nodes have such potential for, er, magic. The official rules have so far left this potential largely untapped, stranded in the limbo between soulless mechanics and bland templates. Charles Siegel, of Mage: The Podcast fame, has put together everything you need to breathe life into your Chronicle's places of power.

You get a number of paradigms defining how mages see nodes, a collection of sample nodes, and a set of rules that'll help you build unique nodes by yourself. More importantly, this supplement helps you think about nodes in the way they deserve.

The overall feel of this PDF is professional and official. At no point do you feel like you're reading anything but a Mage-supplement. Yes, there's the odd typo or editing error, but this is a very reasonably priced fan-made supplement, so I certainly wont complain.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Sources of Magick
Publisher: White Wolf
by Alice W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/23/2020 19:47:25

This is the first Mage supplement I've ever read and it sets my expectations going forward. Sources of Magick is impeccably professional barring the odd typo here or there. Charles has prodigious understanding of the Mage source material, some real-world places (and historical events) as well as the creativity to tie all of it into a neat little bow via the copious example Nodes. Even still, the marriage of creativity and real-world relatability is taken to its heights in the section on node paradigms, which doubles as a crash course in metaphysical philosophy. At 49 pages cover-to-cover, it's a bit ambitious for what I expected as a fan supplement. In some ways, it could be perceived as too short.

Let me lay this down: Nodes were underexplained in the Mage core book, even as far as 20th edition. It's easy to see them as some simplistic place where power generically gathers and Mages can tap into it. This is true in a literal sense: in that you will use this literary device called a "node" as a building block to your story; though false in that you shouldn't take the formless prime material (heh) that is the Core's presentaiton of nodes and paste it directly into every campaign. Which is why all the subsequent features (such as Tass and resonance) can feel unwelcome—they run counter to my impression that nodes were simple. However, Charles reveals Nodes as they ought to have been portrayed. Let me say this again because it bears repeating: Charles would've been a good hire for a section on Nodes in the Core book.

So while it's easy to expect a short supplement (maybe under 20 pages), the expansion on this simple idea reveals how extensive it is inherently. I want more and yet I have all that I will need. This is key to me, regarding the utility of supplements. There's enough provided for a jump-start where you can pull in a vast array of these fully fleshed ideas and turn some of them into entire campaigns if you wanted. Yet some are bespoke and this may not contain a literary framework for every story. That's where "all you need but not all you want" comes into play. Far from being a negative criticism, this is the thing creativty is made from. Once you understand and use the supplement's stock ideas a few times, it still has provided the thought framework for your brain to quickly and easily create more. Wanting more is good because you will have the tools to create more at your whim. I would go so far as to say the node creation rules could be used for Werewolf: The Apocalypse cairns, or really any place of note in a World of Darkness chronicle. Because ultimately, nodes are storied points of interest with a special storytelling property. They should drip narrative and ooze hooks. Sources of Magick provides an abundance of both and then hands you the tools and understanding to continue its work for your own campaigns.

With the main body of the review out of the way, here's some of my thoughts on the individual sections in this book.

Paradigms Section or "the Nature of Nodes"

One of my favorite paradigms was "Gold Standard" where a Primal Utility-inclined mage such as the Syndicate may view a place as a a vault of gold ingots or mine of raw ore. As gold is an outdated—but still valuable—commodity, so-too are these nodes viewed as "nice-to-haves" but not essential. It's very cool that this paradigm is included, moreso because a logical conclusion to "all is value" is provided: if that node is hard to hold onto, it should just be drained. Like liquidating a possibly toxic asset long before it begins its downward trend in stocks. This isn't how I would see the world but it was such a shock to think of mages (technocrat or not) considering this as a viable option. It fits snugly within the market capitalist viewpoint that everything has to generate more value for whomever privately owns the property, rather than used for the common good. Which makes a perfect villain for a chronicle. There are several other good paradigms such as everything being made of computer data (i.e. "all is data"), which works very well for several paradigms even outside the Virtual Adepts, as mathematicians may recall Pythagoras believed "all is number". There aren't any weak paradigms on display here and I'd rather not spoil them all.

Resonance

One of the very cool things included in this book is an example of nodes attuned with a sphere's resonance. Resonance is another poorly explained core concept and reading The Book of Secrets may still be necessary to grasp it all but Charles does a great job of helping visualize the bizarre time warping effects of a Time-resonant node or the danger inherent to some Force-resonant nodes. Later, each one is expounded on in the node builder with varying degrees of extremity. The examples provided are just enough to use in a chronicle, yet inspire to create more.

Rotes

Many of the rotes in Sources of Magick are based on Prime, which I felt was a previously under-represented sphere. It's appropriate for Prime to feature in each rote since nodes are intrinsically linked to the Sphere as a whole, even if they are not always attuned to a Prime resonance. Speaking of which, the sizable 26 rotes provided are handily split into categories that deal with Quintessence, Ley Lines, Tass, and Resonance. I found this useful since I'm not always exactly sure how to categorize an effect unless I've seen it previously. Even if you use only a few of these rotes, there are plenty of ideas that easily transition into your own rotes and build a comprehensive toolbox for understanding Prime therein.

Node Builder

This has to be my favorite section, utility-wise. While paradigms brought me into the fold for understanding nodes properly, the builder is something I think most chronicles can use even beyond the equivalent building of Domains in Vampire: the Masquerade. Players and Storytellers alike can allocate points to the node and whatever comes out should be interesting enough that it forms a building block of a story. This is a great resource for story points of interest, even if you aren't playing Mage—which is why I say its use goes beyond building Domains in Vampire for Vampires. In the builder, you'll assign points to the amount of Quintessence, size of the node, the ratio of Quintessence to Tass, and special Merits/Flaws (of which there are a ton) that add more flavor and uniqueness to the node. I feel like Merits/Flaws are especially great if you start without a solid narrative understanding of what you want your node to be. If you know ahead of time, such as a powerful Prime node based in a stock exchange, then you can easily follow the point-buy to a logical conclusion. It's also nice to use as a node "power rater" since the points are easily tracable given the description of any node. This allows storytellers to compare nodes over a chronicle or between chronicles to understand the power differentials and potentials. Special care has also been taken within the node builder to help storytellers integrate nodes with Changling: the Dreaming and Werewolf: the Apocalypse as well!

Summary

Sources of Magick takes a concept which was too simplistic for what the developers wanted it to be and spins a comprehensive yarn to draw storytellers—once again—into the Ascension War. When fully fleshed out, it's easy to see why warring over nodes is so endless. They are integrated into the very things that Sleepers consider part of normal life. It may not do this for you but after reading this supplement, I looked at places very differently. I dredged up old thinking patterns that I used to fall into: How does this place flow? How are people unconsciously drawn to form certain paths within its architecture? Where does its "power" come from and what is it? From shopping malls with dead energy; sleepy cul-de-sacs that are nevertheless deathtraps and woven into a labyrinth of bourgoise privacy; to the Roman-inspired buildings of government where our collective belief (whether positive or not) in power flows. There is always something of a "node" around us. Viewing the real world in this way is nothing of a new process. It comes from Philosopher, Guy Debord's "Theory of Dérive" wherein the material world's conditions and structure should be explored deliberately rather than taken as a given. People within the system have decided where you can go, how you can get there, which routes lead to how much ease or difficulty, and have so often designed them without considering the diverse cast of humans among the world's stage. While I cannot know if Charles is familiar with Debord's work in derivé or The Spectacle, I can say that this exploration of nodes provides a deep and meaningful glimpse into the world behind the world, whether you choose to see our own that way or merely invite it into your fiction. Therefore I invite each of you who has a burning need to tell a story to explore a new world—alive, mysterious, connected and all at once looking for the many Sources of Magick.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Sources of Magick
Publisher: White Wolf
by Jason E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/03/2020 23:35:14

There is nothing more frustrating than trying to explain to new players what a node is and having to reference 9 different books that all contradict each other with vague examples! This supplement is exactly what I would guide players of all backgrounds to checkout. For the new players its it's a great intro to the many concepts of not only what a node is or could be, but also how to interact with them. For the Storyteller, its it's a great source of inspiration as well as a reminder of how other Nightfolk would interact with both the node and the intrusive mage PC.

If your players are interested in getting a node, or the ST wants to do some crossover play, this book is a must have!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Sources of Magick
Publisher: White Wolf
by DSC T. G. C. _. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/23/2019 16:34:52

Sources of Magick is a fantastic resource that describes how the various paradigms view nodes. Along with examples of these nodes, the book includes rotes that focus on drawing power out of nodes and ley lines. Guidelines are also included on how to design your own node to use in your campaign.

The tabletop gaming club found Sources of Magick a must have book. Besides the rules and examples included within, there was a lot of story opportunities presented with in the book. The book was a welcome addition to our Mage library and we strongly suggest that other mage players acquire a copy for their own libraries.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Sources of Magick
Publisher: White Wolf
by Terry R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/30/2019 07:51:06

Mage makes the promise of showing players the infinite expanse of possibilities that is the Tellurian but sometimes has difficulty delivering on that. At current, M20 players receive something like lesss than one book a year and those books have a lot of ground to cover. The author attempts to fill out a little explained corner of Mage that is often quite vital, that of Nodes. The topic is particularly frought as M20 proved to be very hands off as regards the level of supernaturality/power/sorcery in any given Mage chronicle and didn't even go so far as to say "this is the default". The author does some work in providing a breadth of theories for what Nodes could be under various paradigms (none are purported to be canon) as well as the resonances with a given sphere that a Node may have. This at first felt like a useless complication but it provides ample story opportunities if an ST indicates that a particular ritual, effect, or action requires particularly attuned resonance regarding the Quintessence used. Following this is a wide breadth of of sample Nodes that fills a notable lacuna within Mage. Werewolf got an entire book on Caerns where Mage players at most got a discussion of Nodes spread over multiple texts and the somewhat complicated Book of Chantries.

This is the author's first step into entire books of novel concepts and systems and I'm pleased with the results, I look forward to seeing what comes next.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Sources of Magick
Publisher: White Wolf
by Jason K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/03/2019 11:40:15

A fantastic resource! I love the section describing how different paradigms view nodes, and I would love to see more content that is broken up by paradigm over faction in future supplements.

There are also a great many example nodes, each with their own history. Not only does this give some great places for Mage characters to explore, but gives some ideas for Storytellers on creating their own (with rules to go with it!)

The only problems that I saw as I read through it were a few minor spelling mistakes (no more than the typical White Wolf book, in any case.)

While there is certainly mention of Haunts, Caerns, and Freeholds, I would have liked some more cross-over info.

A lot of care and love was put into this supplement, and it shows. It's a worthy addition to any Mage Storyteller's library.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
If you would please send the spelling errors you found to me via https://www.facebook.com/charlessiegelstv I will fix them up! One of the advantages of ebooks.
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