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Are there official / good unofficial rules for the new World of Darkness that would support gradually playing through, over the course of a few stories, the transformation of a PC from mortal to a template?

(I'd be most interested in rules for Mage.)

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So I understand the question: you're looking for a mechanical guide for applying the template over time, rather than as a prelude step? I'd like you to expand what "rules" you think would be helpful in navigating what seems to me to be a primarily story-based concern. –  Jadasc Sep 26 '12 at 12:16
@Jadasc : Yes, you understand the Q correctly. Example rules for Mage (for example) would include: acquiring Gnosis (rolls, costs etc), learning the Arcana (dot by dot), introducing Mage-specific merits etc. –  OpaCitiZen Sep 26 '12 at 12:58
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3 Answers

Werewolf: the Forsaken
Being a Werewolf seems to be an all-or-nothing state. You've either undergone the First Change or you haven't. Prior to that, the character was probably Wolf-Blooded, but I don't know if that is always true. Blood of the Wolf has a chapter specifically about the Wolf-Blooded where it offers a sort of sliding scale of "wolf-bloodedness."

Now, my understanding is that werewolves, from the moment they're born, have a sort of hybrid spirit-soul. The opening story in Werewolf is about a pack that detects a guy is about to change, so we know that there must be something that can be detected. Were it me, I would tell the story of how the character sensed internal changes. Maybe they notice their moods change abruptly with the phases of the moon or that some familiar places now have an almost-palpable pulse and hunger to them. (You could signify these with a personality Flaw and Unseen Senses, respectively. Maybe let players reassign these dots later so they don't feel cheated if the Change makes them obsolete.) I would use these sort of scenes to highlight that they have always been different; there's always been something deep down that is now climbing to the surface. The First Change can come as a sudden shock or the external confirmation of what they had already begun to feel inside.

Changeling: The Lost
A human becomes a Changeling over the course of their Durance in Arcadia. Equinox Road p. 105-107 discuss the transformation and its 4 stages: mortal, enchanted mortal, fae-touched mortal, and changeling. Basically, as a mortal interacts with Arcadian objects, they unwittingly make agreements with them -- By drinking Arcadian water, you agree that the water will quench your thirst. Over time, accepting these agreements allows the Wyrd to affect them more and more. Adapting to the land and their Keeper's demands is then what transforms them.

Since the transformation (as written) occurs while the character is a slave in Fairie and ceases to progress as soon as they leave there, I don't see this as a very viable way to portray a gradual change over the course of a story (unless you want to tell a story in Arcadia, which is what Equinox Road is kind of about). Of course, you could rule that the changes continue, even for those who were rescued or escape before they became full Changelings. This reinforces some of the hopelessness of the Changeling condition: A changeling, who fought so hard to rescue her brother from the True Fae, finds she can do nothing to save him from the infectious Wyrd.

Mage: the Awakening
If you've read Mage, you already know about Sleepers, Sleepwalkers and the Awakened. But Mage p. 334 mentions Proximi, people who have been touched by the Supernal. They're fleshed out much more fully in The Silver Ladder which gives rules for Proximus Dynasties. The Dynasty rules don't require a character to come from a mystical lineage necessarily; Dynasties are really just a set of Blessings (30-dots of themed rotes they can learn) and a Curse (which is roughly as severe and obscure as a rank 3-4 spirit's ban). On top of that, Proximi can use Imbued Items, hold 5 Mana, do Pattern Restoration and a couple other mini-mage things. If they Awaken, they keep the Curse but any Blessings become true rotes which they can cast even if they lack the Arcana.

So you could have a character who develops some intuitive knacks (Blessings) and from there begins to uncover family secrets (Curse). Or maybe they meet a mystical teacher who teaches them amazing things (Blessings) but explains that this path has a strict requirement or grave cost (Curse). Perhaps a truck full of liquid tass spills on them while they were walking down the street, and now they're experiencing peculiar side-effects (Blessings & Curse). From there, the characters could continue as Proximi, learning Blessings while avoiding the Curse, or they might Awaken. Since Curses persist and are fairly harsh, I'd probably try to give players opportunities to grab some non-Path rotes before Awakening.

Regarding Other Supernatural Templates
Mummies I know next to nothing about. Prometheans and Demons were never mortal, so there's no way to transition into being supernatural (if fact, Prometheans are trying to become mortals). Sin-Eaters might start as Gatekeepers, mortals who can open gates to the Underworld (Book of the Dead p. 50-51), though that's not really implied as a direct progression and Gatekeepers gain no other special powers, leaving a big gap between them and Sin-Eaters; probably not what you're looking for.

Now Vampires, however, have Ghouls (Vampire: the Requiem p. 166-168) and Larvae (Night Horrors: The Wicked Dead p. 100-115). Larvae are mindless minions that result from a botched Embrace. They can be Elevated into full Kindred later, but the progression from mortal to frenzy incarnate to vampire is probably not what you want since the player would lose control of the character during the larval phase. Ghouls, on the other hand, provide an excellent transition state (almost as perfect as Proximi). Ghouls can learn vampiric Disciplines and carry these over if Embraced, along with blood addiction and Vinculum. Therein lie the downsides: all ghouls need vampire blood, vampire blood is addicting, and drinking from the same vampire 3 times forms a Vinculum (a supernatural emotional dependence). If a player wants to have a ghoul character, they'll need to work out where the blood is coming from and what strings are attached (because there's bound to be some conditions). Additionally, when the time comes to become a full member of the Kindred, there needs to be a very good reason for a vampire to Embrace the ghoul.

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I do not think you need rules for this. The first thing to note is that for most of the supernatural, the change from mortal to being supernatural is generally a sudden discontinuity in their life. A sudden break with what came before. A vampire goes from being alive to being a vampire in the course of a few minutes. A werewolf is born a werewolf, and might find out in various ways, but even if they know from a young age that they are a werewolf, the first change will be a dramatic event. And a Mage's Awakening is normally portrayed as a something like a sudden flash of insight, a eureka moment that can be traumatic, euphoric, or simply awe-inspiring but generally fast.

So the transformation from normal to supernaturl per se is almost always fast. A few minutes or even less. But the rest, the acquiring of the skills, knowledge, and supernatural abilities that can all be roleplayed, and with pretty much no changes to the rules except perhaps in character creation and how advancement is done. And there you have a few choices.

What I would do is have the characters make normal mortal characters. All supernatural abilities, knowledges, merits, flaws, etc. are off limits but they can make some notes about what they would like to develop. Then, I would role play the transformation very early on and fast, but hand out the the supernatural parts over several game sessions. I would hand these out in lieu of experience, but far faster then they could earn them with experience, and I would hand them out based on the story but with player preference in mind. I would justify handing these things out so fast in two ways: First, there is a learning spurt whenever you enter a new field and they just entered a new field in a big way. Second, since these all flow from the story they are flowing from the story.

An alternative is to have them fully make the characters as though creating a new character of the appropriate type. But the supernatural parts are locked away. They then unlock the powers they already chose through roleplaying. This involves a bit more hand tying for the GM though since you need to find ways to justify what they did if needed.

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Thanks. Sure, we can rely / improvise on the existing rules that we know, and will do so (and have already done so in previous stories), but the aim of this Q is to see whether there are official rules and/or whether someone has made something good up for this. –  OpaCitiZen Sep 26 '12 at 21:33
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Though I don't know of any official or unofficial Rules, I can see this be done for werewolf and changeling, but a Mage's Awakening is generally a radical and sudden change. A Mystery Play could probably be roleplayed over the course of a session, but I don't see it extending beyond that.

While not rules per se, there are guidelines in each splatbook detailing the minutiae of every template's -gradual or not- transformation, with roleplaying hints.

The Chronicler's Guide, on the other hand, offers alternative visions of the universe (such as one with 360 Supernal Realms, one for each combination of Ruling and Inferior Arcana) and the different forms of Awakening that happen within these variations. You might want to peruse this book for inspiration.

In the same book, you'll possibly want to take a close look at the alternative mode of play called "the Epistolary Chronicle". In this mode, the action is described through letters written by the protagonists. This could easily be used to relate the early apprenticeship of a newly awakened Mage, his bonding with a mentor, introduction to an order (even possibly his cabal) and other template-acquisition-related events before the game begins.

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The mystery play and the awakening is just a part of the process. The Mage template gives a certain amount of Gnosis, Arcanum dots and spells to the starting Mage character, it is these I'd like to see rules for. –  OpaCitiZen Sep 26 '12 at 13:48
OK. I had indeed misunderstood the question. Though my answer is mostly background-oriented, I think there's something that might interest you in the Chronicler's Guide. I'll expand to clarify that. –  Nigralbus Sep 26 '12 at 13:52
Thanks for the recommendation, I'll try and check out the Chronicler's Guide. The Epistolary solution seems interesting, but, unfortunately, is not suited for the specific situation our party is dealing with now (the in-game, non-skipped transition from mortals to... probably... Mage. :)) –  OpaCitiZen Sep 26 '12 at 15:11
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