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I've read Mage the Ascension rules like ten times, and still have problems with Paradox, specially in the Backlash.

In revised edition, each time you gain Paradox, you roll the Paradox pool, and for each success, a Paradox point is expended in the Backlash. Ok.

But when describing the Backlash, there are several effects described:

  • Damage directly delivered to the magician.
  • Paradox Flaws, like the watch running backwards or loosing the facial features.
  • More exotic effects, like Paradox Spirits, Paradox Realms, Quiet or Hobgoblins.

The thing I can't understand is if these effects happens all or only one. I think that Paradox Spirits, Realms and so on, substitute the Paradox Flaws. But I don't know if Paradox Flaws substitute the damage or those things are cumulative.

So, I see these different options:

  • Damage OR Flaw OR Realm OR Spirit ...
  • Damage AND (Flaw OR Realm OR Spirit ...)
  • Damage AND Flaw AND (everything the Storyteller wants to include)

Do you know which one is correct (if any)?


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up vote 9 down vote accepted

It depends on how much Paradox is in your wheel when the Backlash occurs.

There's a chart on page 195 of the Mage Revised book that addresses this. The usual result is "damage and flaw," with both in proportion to how much Paradox is released. Small amounts lead to bashing damage and a minor, inconvenient flaw. Larger amounts lead to lethal damage (or even aggravated damage) and longer lasting flaws.

On page 152, it's noted that Paradox Spirits may show up with any backlash as an additional complication; the larger the amount of paradox, the meaner the spirit. Paradox Realms are only at risk with a discharge of 10 points or greater.

Throughout, the Storyteller is encouraged to use Paradox as a means of punishing players or engaging cruel whims. This falls in the category of "1990s GM advice," but it's something to look out for.

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So your interpretation is that there is always damage+flaw, and optionally the Storyteller can add spirits and realms to the cocktail (but without removing the damage nor the flaw). Is it that? – Mu_ Mar 28 '14 at 12:09
That's what I believe the book says, yes. Paradox always hurts and warps you, but may optionally hurt and warp those around you. – Jadasc Mar 28 '14 at 12:24

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